Small Screen Seagulls; Arsenal (H) 26/01/2013

Small Screen Seagulls LogoAfter an exciting debut season at The Amex, Brighton pushed on further under Gus Poyet during the 2012/2013 campaign. The club had its sights set on a top six finish, with the Championship Play Offs a real possibility. The Seagulls wanted to be plying their trade with the best the country had to offer in the Premier League. Opportunities arose in the Cup competitions for the Albion to test their mettle against the big clubs. Already in this stadium, they had seen off higher Division opponents in Sunderland and Newcastle (twice), as well as test Liverpool. The Fourth Round of the FA Cup in January 2013 presented another chance to showcase where this club could go as Arsenal came to town. BBC Football Focus previewed the match, whilst Saturday night highlights were shown on ITV as the Albion story was back in the television spotlight again.


Brighton 2-3 Arsenal, FA Cup R4; 3pm, Sat 26th Jan ’13

FAC Titles

Brighton progressed to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in 2013 after knocking out Premier League Newcastle United Live on TV for the second successive season. Goals from Andrea Orlandi and Will Hoskins secured a two-nil victory at the start of January. The draw was conducted the following day Live on ITV and ESPN. Overseen by Mark Pougatch at Wembley Stadium, ex-Arsenal and England goalkeeper David Seaman picked out the home teams whilst former Albion ‘keeper and a winner of the competition with Wimbledon twenty-five years earlier, Dave Beasant selected the away teams.

Seaman picked up ball number two, giving Brighton another home tie. When Beasant picked out ball eleven, you could hear the nervous grimace from his colleague as it would be Arsenal who would be coming to The Amex – providing they could win their Third Round Replay. The Gunners drew two-all away at Swansea City in the original tie, with a Replay at The Emirates set ten days later. A goal from Jack Wilshere with four minutes remaining broke the deadlock there to send Arsenal through.

The broadcasters had already made their television selections by that time and opted not to risk a potential Brighton v Swansea fixture ending up on their screens, whilst Brighton versus Arsenal would have been much higher up the pecking order. So, because of the Replay, the match wasn’t selected for Live broadcast and therefore was played in the traditional slot of Saturday 3pm. It did garner media attention in the form of highlights on the Saturday evening, but first, I begin by looking at the BBC’s feature on the fixture from Football Focus.

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Football Focus, BBC One, 12.15pm (Saturday 26th January 2013)

FF Ident FF Titles

Saturday afternoons on BBC One had featured preview show Football Focus throughout the season dating all the way back to 1974. It was an integral part of Grandstand from then until 2001, when it was separated out to become a programme in its own right. Previous hosts included Sam Leitch, Bob Wilson, Gary Lineker and Ray Stubbs, but it was Dan Walker who became the latest face of Focus, when he joined the programme in 2009. This particular edition on Saturday 26th January was broadcast in its usual forty-five minute slot from a quarter past midday coming Live from BBC Sport’s home at Media City in Salford. The show never really stuck with a theme tune for very long, tending to change it each season. Soundtracking this one was Undegpedwar by Welsh instrumental band Y Niwi.

FF Walker FF Studio

Joining host Dan Walker was BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson, former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Ince and Bradford boss Phil Parkinson. Walker was born in Crawley, whom he supports. His broadcasting career began straight out of university in radio in Sheffield, where he studied, before moving to Manchester’s Key 103 for four years. He moved into television in the area with a brief spell at ITV Granada and then BBC North West from 2003. He began coverage for national television in 2008 when reporting at various major sporting events for the BBC including Wimbledon tennis and Royal Ascot horse racing before taking over this gig from Manish Bhasin in 2009. For the 2012 series, Walker also hosted regional magazine show Late Kick Off in London and the South East.

FF Protests FF Brady tenure

Reporter Mark Clemmit, regularly seen on highlights programme The Football League Show, produced a feature for Football Focus ahead of Brighton’s FA Cup clash with Arsenal taking place later that day. He focussed on one man who linked the two clubs; Liam Brady. The Irish attacking midfielder spent the 1970s at Arsenal, playing over 250 times and lifting the FA Cup in 1979.  He moved to Italy with the likes of Juventus and Inter Milan before returning to England in 1987 to see out his playing days with West Ham. After retiring, he managed Celtic for two years before joining the Albion in 1993, when the club was becoming overshadowed by financial problems. His two-year spell at the Goldstone came when Brighton were sinking down the Leagues and fans were beginning to uncover the truth about the corrupt ownership of the club. After departing in November 1995, Brady went on to lead a consortium bidding to take over the club but it was unable to achieve that.

Clemmit’s report began with Brady explaining the dire situation at the Albion in the 1990s over footage of fan protests and news reports about the chairman and chief executive, Bill Archer and David Bellotti. “They were in a bad way, they had no financial resources”, Brady explained, “inches away from going out of business completely”. The plan was for Archer and his cohorts sell the Goldstone Ground, profit from that and get out of the club, leaving it to die without a home. Brady added that Brighton had “great support in the city, in Sussex as well. And these people just didn’t care.”

FF Brady FF Knight

Brady talked about his time with the Seagulls and what caused him to leave in 1995. “I was better on the outside probably for the club that I was on the inside, because on the inside I couldn’t do anything. I was employed by them!” He started a campaign to stop the move away from the Goldstone, which had some success in delaying the sale back by a year. He paid tribute to Dick Knight, Brighton chairman between 1998 and 2011, whom Brady teamed up with during these troublesome times and was an important ally of Knight. “I helped him, I was always there. And all the people are so pleased that the club is in the position they’re in”, Brady added.

FF Poyet tenure FF Poyet interview

The report then shifted towards modern day Albion and the job Gus Poyet was doing for the three-and-a-bit-years since his 2009 appointment. Again in conversation with Mark Clemmit, Poyet revealed his first team coach Charlie Oatway had given him the lowdown on Brighton’s struggles in the 1990s and the history of all that; “He knows how much it means for people of Brighton”.

Poyet was asked what he knew about Liam Brady and particularly his time at the Albion which, as you may expect, wasn’t too much. “I hope he’s happy with what I’m doing because I’m sure that he’s got some part of his heart in Brighton.” Brady was happy; “You’ll only get highly technical players by playing in a highly technical way. And I think Poyet and Arsene Wenger do that.”

The report concluded by looking ahead to this Cup fixture. Poyet spoke of its importance; “When I sit there, 3 O’clock, it becomes the most important game of my life. Don’t worry, everybody’s going to be awake and it’s going to be a good game.” As the show returned to the studio, host Dan Walker remarked; “A lovely bit of telly, that, with the great Liam Brady.” Former Albion defender turned pundit, Mark Lawrenson, summed up the situation. “I think it’s a real tough tie for them but when you consider that game against Hereford all those years ago when they could’ve gone out the League and where they are now, it’s an absolutely fantastic story.” It really is, Mark. The scene was set very nicely for the big match.


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FA Cup Highlights, ITV, 11pm (Saturday 26th January 2013)

FAC Smith FAC Studio

ITV continued to broadcast coverage of the FA Cup this season, having won it back in 2008 from the BBC. Brighton supporters were well versed with ITV’s coverage of the competition this season having been shown Live on the channel in Round Three. Since that point, the ITV network underwent a rebrand. ITV1 became simply ITV, whilst their portfolio of channels all received a new logo which permanently remained in the top corner of the screen.

At the beginning of this season ITV launched new graphics and title sequence for their coverage. The specially composed music was by Jim Copperthwaite, a composer who had worked on several television and advertising soundtracks, and was simply known as ‘FA Cup’. The cinematic titles include various famous Cup moments from the ITV archives, including the great Brian Moore welcoming us to the coverage. The clips all form part of the trophy that slowly came together during the sequence.

Hosting the programme was Matt Smith, the usual highlights presenter and an ITV Sport anchor since 2001. He turned his hand at any sport the network threw his way, including darts, boxing, cricket, motor sport and, of course, football. He was even involved in the ITV coverage of the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. For tonight’s highlights show he was joined in the studio by pundits Clarke Carlisle and Gordon Strachan, both regulars on ITV this season. Commentary was provided by Peter Drury, who also voiced our Third Round match.

FAC Teams

Gus Poyet gave a run out to former first choice goalie Casper Ankergren, now the club’s designated Cup ‘keeper. Inigo Calderon was preferred at right back to his Spanish compatriot Bruno. Despite being on loan, left back Wayne Bridge was given the go ahead to feature in the Cup as there were no plans for him to return to parent club Manchester City, likewise Dean Hammond in midfield on loan from Southampton. There was a first start for new £2million signing Leonardo Ulloa. The Argentine striker joined from La Liga’s Almeria ten days earlier. He partnered Ashley Barnes up front, who scored in two of his last three appearances. Options on the subs bench included Craig Mackail-Smith and Kazenga LuaLua if the attack needed fresh legs.

Arsene Wenger introduced a new front line for the 2012/2013 season in a bid to end a trophy drought dating back to 2005. German striker Lukas Podolski was signed for just under £11million from Cologne, and Frenchman Olivier Giroud switched from Montpellier for a rumoured £13million. In goal, Polish ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny was handed the number one shirt following the release of Manuel Almunia. German central defender Per Mertesacker was handed the captain’s armband for the first time today and had only missed one match so far this season. Czech international Tomas Rosicky missed the first few months of the campaign after injuring his achilles during Euro 2012. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was part of Southampton’s midfield when they were promoted behind the Albion from League One in 2011, making the Division’s PFA Team of the Season in the process and earning his move to the Gunners that summer. The referee was Michael Oliver.

FAC Comm FAC Giroud goal

The first chance fell the way of the Albion as Ashley Barnes went very close to breaking the deadlock. The move began with a throw in on the far touchline and, a couple of passes later, David Lopez was flicking on his header behind the Arsenal defence. The looping ball fell for Barnes, but he didn’t quite connect fully with the volley. It was hit into the ground rather than cleanly, enabling Szczesny to get fingertips on it and keep it out. This proved crucial.

The resulting corner was dealt with by the goalkeeper eventually, who then started a lightning quick counter attack to result in the opening goal in the sixteenth minute. Tomasz Rosicky was allowed to carry the ball forward from the half way line up to near the Brighton penalty box. He found Podolski who laid it off to Olivier Giroud inside the D on the edge of the area. Giroud curled a superb effort into the top corner of the net with his left foot for one-nil to the Arsenal.

FAC Barnes goal.JPG

Brighton thought they’d got an equaliser through debutant Leonardo Ulloa only for the linesman’s flag to rule it out for offside. The replay confirmed the decision, as he strayed just too much beyond the last defender when Inigo Calderon delivered his cross. Szczesny parried that into Ulloa’s path but by then it was too late and the flag was aloft. A bit of momentum was building though for the home side.

Moments later, the equaliser arrived through a powerful Ashley Barnes header. Will Buckley played a corner short to David Lopez on the near side. His delivery was perfectly into the heart of the six yard area. As Szczesny came to punch clear, he was beaten to the ball by Barnes who buried his header into the empty goal from just a couple of yards out with thirty-three minutes on the clock.

FAC Subs FAC Giroud second

Into the second half, Brighton changed things up a bit with the arrival of Gary Dicker and Kazenga LuaLua to bolster the midfield. But it was the Gunners who fired first and almost regained their lead. Adam El-Abd’s foul on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain presented a shooting opportunity from a free kick twenty-five yards out. Lukas Podolski did almost everything right but for the placement, as it cannoned off the crossbar with Ankergren beaten all ends up.

The visitors did have their lead back after eleven second half minutes and again it was Olivier Giroud who scored it. Abou Diaby chipped the ball from half way inside Brighton territory over the heads of the back line. Giroud brought the ball down and got the better of his marker El-Abd. As Ankergren rushed out of goal to close down the angle, Giroud stretched to rifle the ball home from the left of the six yard area to crash the back of the net. Two-one Arsenal.

FAC Ulloa goal

Albion heads did not lower despite the setback. Although, their second equaliser needed a stoop from Ulloa to connect with his head on the way to goal ten minutes later. Dean Hammond played the short ball out wide to Ashley Barnes. His cross was inch perfect into the danger zone where Ulloa had run between two Arsenal defenders. Being just six yards out, he only needed to nod the ball home and it would beat the ‘keeper for pace from that distance. The Argentinian watched it all the way, timed his run and netted a goal on his first start in the blue and white stripes. Game on again at two-two.

Arsenal changed their personnel, bringing on Theo Walcott and the man who rescued them in the last round, Jack Wilshere. Whilst the Seagulls swapped Ulloa out for the tireless running of Craig Mackail-Smith for the final part of the contest.

FAC Walcott goal FAC Final Score

For all the fight and spirit from the Albion, it took a deflected goal near the end to finally kill them off. Casper Ankergren flapped at an Arsenal corner. He pushed the ball to the edge of the box where Theo Walcott was waiting. He used his side foot to volley a shot back in. It looked like it was going centrally before taking a huge nick off what looked to be an instinctive arm out from the goalkeeper. That sent the ball into the other side of the goal, beyond Mackail-Smith on the line. Arsenal had their third lead of the match with just five minutes to hang on to it.

Craig Mackail-Smith had his appeal for a penalty late on turned down by referee Michael Oliver. He appeared to be shoved over in the area by Carl Jenkinson whilst awaiting Liam Bridcutt’s delivery but these cries were ignored. And it ended up being the last action of the match. Arsenal progressed to Round Five, knocking Brighton out at The Amex by three goals to two. They would go on to face Blackburn in the next round, where they’d suffer a surprise defeat at home. Meanwhile, Brighton could put all their focus onto the promotion push where they’d ultimately come unstuck in the Play Off Semi Finals.

FAC Wenger FAC Poyet

In his post-match interview, victorious manager Arsene Wenger admitted his nerves at the prospect of not winning on the day as Albion kept fighting back; “In the last twenty minutes I thought there was a bit nervous because, I thought, we do not want the replay and, of course, we do not want to go out.” Winning goalscorer Theo Walcott thought his fortunes were finally in with the deflection for the decisive strike; “I’m due a lucky goal! I haven’t had a lucky goal for a long time.”

Albion boss Gus Poyet spoke of Leonardo Ulloa’s goalscoring debut. “He’s the only one who looks a little bit happy in the dressing room!” He went on to add his disappointment about not quite getting the result the performance merited.

FAC Carlisle FAC Strachan

In ITV’s London Studio, Matt Smith analysed the match with his pundits; Clarke Carlisle and Gordon Strachan. Carlisle described the enjoyment he had of what he was watching; “The quality that was on show, the atmosphere in The Amex stadium, it made for a fantastic spectacle.” He praised the quality of Olivier Giroud, showcasing his talents with two very good strikes to get his brace.

Gordon Strachan referenced Arsenal’s replay victory at Swansea, which needed game changing substitutions to see them through. And the same happened here, with the introduction of Walcott to win it late on. “They brought the cavalry on again today. I don’t care what tactics you’re using, if you bring on three great players like that, your game will improve.” The difference in quality between the top clubs and teams in the Championship should always be the deciding factor, and it was on this occasion. Though, Brighton ran their Premier League opponents very close and real confidence could be taken from this performance.

#60: Brighton 0-2 Watford 25/04/2015

#60 BRIGHTON 0-2 WATFORD Championship
Saturday 25th April 2015 Image result for

60WAT Titles.JPG

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Peter Beagrie
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
12.15pm Kick Off; The Amex     12-2.30pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

60WAT Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

The Albion were back Live on television two weeks after their last appearance. Similar to that night, Brighton took on one of the promotion candidates in a crucial end of season match. This was the last game at The Amex in what had been a season to forget. Having had so much success over the past four years since leaving Withdean with the League One title, it was probably inevitable that at some point things would catch up with the club.

Three different manages had taken permanent charge of the club since this time last year; Oscar Garcia, Sami Hyypia and now Chris Hughton. A lack of quality investment meant a whole host of loan players were brought in and a clear imbalance was on display. Chris Hughton’s stock was extremely high in the Championship, having gained promotion with Newcastle and Norwich before. His task was to stabilise a side that weren’t keeping clean sheets and lacked potency up top. He managed the first part, but goals were proving much harder to come by.

As we headed into this final home game of a miserable campaign, Brighton were six points above the bottom three with two matches remaining. It would take a miracle for Millwall or Wigan to overtake the Seagulls at this late stage, which was handy as the final two opponents were Middlesbrough next week after Watford today. Both of those were still fighting for the title and expecting wins. Safety could have been mathematically secured earlier and looked likely after a crucial victory at Blackburn back in March. But Brighton’s Easter period was dreadful, defeat at home to Norwich was followed on Monday by a desperate loss at fellow strugglers Rotherham. Suddenly, sixteenth place became nineteenth and Hughton’s men were looking over their shoulders again. Further defeat at Wigan last time out kept alive the Latics hopes of staying up and made sure it wouldn’t be a comfortable end of season on the South Coast.

Today’s visitors Watford were at the tail end of a magnificent run which saw them top the table in the race for promotion, destiny was in their own hands. Since December, the Hornets had played twenty-five, won eighteen, drawn just two and lost five. They picked up fifty-six points from a possible seventy-five. This was serious promotion form and probably would have run away with the title had it not been for a turbulent opening couple of months off the field. Head coach Slavisa Jokanovic was appointed in early October and guided the club to top spot with win in his opening League game. They remained in the top seven for the rest of the season and were now guaranteed top four at worst.

But Jokanovic was their fourth head coach of the season! Beppe Sannino took over in January 2014 and won four of the opening five matches of this campaign but shocked everyone by resigning at the end of August, citing he had taken the club ‘as far as he could’. Former Albion boss Oscar Garcia then made a surprise return to English football just weeks after exiting Sussex. But he stepped down from Watford after less than four weeks, taking charge of the solitary match – a defeat to Charlton. He quit for health reasons, having been hospitalised for a week owing to chest pains. It was a worrying time for the Spaniard, but when he left there were apparently no further fears for his health. Billy McKinlay took over for a week before Deportivo and Chelsea midfielder Slovisa Jokanovic was brought in and McKinlay reverted to assistant. What an achievement it would be to gain promotion in his first months in charge and it could be secured if results went their way today. The Sky Sports cameras were back in town to witness it Live.

 

THE TEAMS

60WAT Brighton

Chris Hughton was looking ahead to next season and the changes he’d be making and needing for his first full campaign with the blue and white stripes. Amongst those he wouldn’t be needing were Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron Hughes, whose contracts were expiring and would not be offered a new one. Both were on the bench today for a farewell to The Amex. Also probably making his last bow was Mustapha Carayol. He moved on loan from next week’s opponents Middlesbrough at the end of March, the deadline for loan deals. He was moved up top alongside Chris O’Grady to provide more of an attacking threat. The lack of goals was probably the biggest weakness of the season; the tally of just forty-four was the fourth worst in the Division, only better than the bottom three. Of the strikers, Sam Baldock netted just four in all competitions whilst Chris O’Grady had three and Leon Best none. Departed pair Adrian Colunga had three and Darren Bent two. It was a huge let down in that department.

The club’s top scorer was centre back Lewis Dunk with seven in League and Cup. Going into this season he had never scored unless it was an own goal! He was part of a trial back three here, alongside captain Gordon Greer and Nottingham Forest’s Greg Halford. Regular full backs Bruno on the right and Joe Bennett on the left were pushed further forward to become wing backs in a three-five-two formation. Albion’s Young Player of the Year, Joao Teixeira, was missing from the middle after breaking his leg in the goalless draw with Huddersfield. The teenager impressed greatly, and it didn’t go unnoticed by parent club Liverpool, as he picked up their Academy Player of the Season for his performances on loan. The Seagulls Supporters Player of the Year was Inigo Calderon, who had enjoyed a new lease of life as a makeshift right midfielder. He was named on the bench today, as was Kazenga LuaLua and Rohan Ince. LuaLua missed two months of the season through injury, since returning to the squad in February he had only started three times was frequently utilised as a substitute.

60WAT Subs 60WAT Watford

Original Watford head coach for this season, Beppe Sannino, brought Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes in from Tottenham on a free over the summer following the retirement of ex-Arsenal stopper Manuel Almunia. Craig Cathcart transferred from Blackpool. Watford were owned by Giampaolo Pozzo, who was also involved with Italian club Udinese and Spanish side Granada. As a result, several of their players spent time switching between the clubs. Strikers Matej Vydra and Odion Ighalo joined on loan from the Italian club, with Ighalo making it permanent back in October. Winger Juan Carlos Paredes came in from Granada over the summer whilst Ikechi Anya moved from Spain to Hertfordshire back in 2012. Closer to home, midfielder Adlene Guedioura was on loan from Crystal Palace.

Ben Watson, the man who scored Wigan’s winner in the FA Cup Final against Manchester City two years ago, joined from the Latics in January. Defender Matthew Connolly left Cardiff for a loan spell at Vicarage Road from mid-March until the end of the season. Captain Troy Deeney began his professional career with four seasons at Walsall before moving down to London in 2010. In June 2012 he was sentenced to ten months in prison for affray when he and a friend attacked a group of students. He was released after serving three months inside and went straight back into the Watford squad for the rest of the 2012/13 season. Since then he was most famously involved in the incredible dramatics which saw Anthony Knockaert miss a penalty for Leicester in the Play Off Semi Final Second Leg, where Watford then broke up the other end for Deeney to score with the last kick off the game to secure their place in the Final. It’s one of the most incredible Play Off moments of all time. Refereeing this afternoon’s clash was boyhood Luton fan – Watford’s famous rivals – little Keith Stroud.

 

PRESENTATION TEAM & COVERAGE

60WAT Ident 60WAT Thomas

Sky’s main Football League Live match each weekend was scheduled in the 12.15pm Saturday lunchtime slot. This was in a bid to deter viewers away from BT Sport’s Live top flight offering, which was regularly Saturdays at 12.45pm. This was not something new for the Football League. Ever since Sky encountered a rival in the Premier League market with Setanta in 2007, the lower League broadcasts were positioned directly against them on Sky, often pettily kicking off just minutes before in order to gain that little edge. As of last season, Sky branded their coverage of the Championship, Leagues One and Two as FL72; using that across the seventy-five Live games per season and the regular Thursday and Monday afternoon magazine programmes. Graphics and music for today remained as it had been all season.

60WAT Pitchside 60WAT Beagrie

FL72’s number one host Simon Thomas presented this afternoon’s coverage from The Amex, opening up the show with build-up done pitchside in front of the West Stand. Thomas was joined by his regular first choice pundit Peter Beagrie. Since hanging up his boots in 2006, the former Scunthorpe, Bradford, Manchester City and Middlesbrough winger forged a successful career in the media. He was paired with host David Jones for the 2007/08 season as Sky went for a new look, younger Football League presentation team and remained a constant ever since. As a player, he appeared in all four Divisions of English football and was still lacing up his boots at the age of forty. As a pundit, Beagrie read the game well and was a natural communicator. His North East accent was a mainstay of Sky’s FL72 coverage in the studio.

60WAT Race for Promotion 60WAT Split screen interview

Today’s broadcast began at midday, fifteen minutes prior to kick-off. On the penultimate round of Championship fixtures, the main focus for Sky was on who would make it up to the Premier League with still so much to be decided; what Sky were labelling the ‘Race for Promotion’. With previous leaders Bournemouth not playing until Monday, also Live on Sky, this was a chance for Watford to widen the gap to four points over the Cherries with a win, and if results went their way in the 3pm games, promotion could be secured on this day. Naturally then, Sky’s coverage reflected this battle, with little mention pre-match of Brighton. The Albion weren’t mathematically secure of their place in the Division again for next season, but a six point gap with two to play made life more comfortable; a point today or next week on the final day at Middlesbrough would be enough. After Thomas and Beagrie had briefly set the scene, we heard from Watford’s fourth manager of the season; Slavisa Jokanovic, in conversation with the main Football League reporter Jonathan Oakes.

Following the advert break and with the teams about to run out onto the turf, Oakes spoke with the Albion’s Chris Hughton for his pre-match thoughts. With not much left to play for other than pride, Brighton would have a greater say in how things panned out at the top in these last two matches and Hughton knew the importance of putting in a professional performance. “We want to finish this season as strong as we can. We also have a responsibility to this club and, of course, to the League to field as strong a side as we can in both games and to get as good a result as we can in both games.” The teams then left the tunnel to a live performance of Sussex By the Sea from soprano singer Donna-Marie Hughes to mark the final home game of the season. And it was up to the commentary box where Daniel Mann and Don Goodman were waiting, just as they were two weeks earlier. A new addition to the FL72 coverage today was a quick thirty second commercial immediately before the kick-off, known as a ‘turbo break’. It was more familiar to the Premier League coverage, where typically a betting ad with live odds was shown.

60WAT Studio 60WAT Interviews

Sky were increasingly presenting the Football League build up from the touchline, soaking in that atmosphere ahead of kick off, before moving up to the studio box for the rest of the show. That’s exactly what happened here, as the usual presentation area up in the back of the North Stand was utilised by Simon Thomas and Peter Beagrie from half time onwards. They reviewed the first period, in which Brighton found themselves unlucky to be behind. The stats backed this up, with the Albion enjoying nearly two-thirds of the possession and the greater number of corners and attempts on goal. The early pressure from the home side was highlighted, passing the ball quicker and getting more numbers in the box when attacking.

When the final whistle sounded, the Watford players and fans were full of celebration. In the middle of the pitch was reporter Jonathan Oakes who grabbed a quick word with the captain, goal scorer and Man of the Match, Troy Deeney, alongside defender Matthew Connolly. Watford did their part of the bargain. If results for the two teams outside the automatic places went the Hornets way, they would be promoted come five o’clock. We wouldn’t see that on this Live broadcast of course, but results did go their way! Middlesbrough lost to Fulham whilst Norwich could only draw at Rotherham. Supporters of both Brighton and Watford stayed behind in the various bars at The Amex to watch Gillette Soccer Saturday as the scores came in, which then led to a big party after full time to share in the achievement of a place up to the top flight. Congratulations to Watford Football Club.

60WAT Fixtures 60WAT Coming Up

Rewinding back a couple of hours and to the end of today’s Live match broadcast; after the break Thomas and Beagrie had only six minutes or so left to wrap everything up before coming off-air at half two. Oakes spoke with victorious manager Jokanovic, treating today as the ‘semi-final’ and next week the ‘final’ in his quest for promotion. The studio team gave an overview of the situation, with Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and Norwich all with two games remaining to chase Watford down. Sky were probably hoping things weren’t quite settled over this weekend, as the following Saturday they’d be showing two Live matches from the final day of the campaign, usually one of the highlights of the season. For Brighton, it was all pretty much done and dusted with six points clear of the drop zone and a superior goal difference. The team below, Rotherham, had been deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player, whilst the team in twenty-second, Millwall, had to work miracles. The bottom two – already relegated Blackpool and 2013 FA Cup winners Wigan – were too far away to catch the Albion. There was no time in the programme to hear the thoughts of Chris Hughton today but he knew that the primary task this season was to maintain Brighton’s Championship status, Big improvements were required next year to get the club back to where it ought to belong; competing for a place amongst England’s elite.

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

60WAT Kick Off 60WAT Comms

Prior to kick off, a minute’s silence was observed for the thirtieth anniversary of the tragic fire at Bradford’s Valley Parade, which killed fifty-six and injured many, many more. Football paid its respects to the victims of that dreadful incident on the 11th May 1985. The penultimate weekend of the Championship season then got underway at The Amex, with Watford shooting towards the North Stand in the first half.

Inside the opening minute Brighton twice went close to getting on the scoresheet, both times just unable to pull the trigger. Firstly, Chris O’Grady caught the Watford defence napping. Joe Bennett found the target man in space but his touch took him to the left where the covering defender was. That opportunity went begging but in the away team’s panic to clear, the ball broke for Dale Stephens on the edge of the penalty area. He dribbled past one then tried to take it beyond a second, the men in yellow were not having that and they kicked to safety. A frantic start to the match, backed by a vocal Seagulls support. Brighton had the lion’s share of the possession and enjoyed success with long, diagonal passes from the back to the wing, enabling the wide players to drive forward in this 3-5-2 formation. As a consequence, Watford brought off Ikechi Anya and replaced him with Daniel Tozser in a diamond midfield. That enabled others to realign to make a more solid back four shape, as opposed to the three, after twenty-five minutes.

Whether these adjustments had any bearing on the deadlock being broken just three minutes later, I don’t know. But that’s exactly what Watford did, as Troy Deeney pounced to make it one-nil. The ball came in from the left from Matthew Connolly, Greg Halford met with the header but mistimed it, sending the ball straight up in the air. Gordon Greer then tried to trap the dropping ball as it fell but only seemed to knock it into the path of his own goal. Ighalo picked it up with his back to goal six-yards out to flick it over to Deeney. His first touch took it past the despairing lunge of Greer before firing a shot past Stockdale and three Albion bodies into the back of the net from twelve yards. Of all the people for the ball to drop to in that position, Troy Deeney is amongst the last you’d want. It was a goal from almost nothing, Brighton had ample opportunity to clear their lines but failed to do so and fell behind in a match they had had the better of to that point.

Five minutes after the goal, Brighton had their first shot on target forcing Gomes into a good save. Chris O’Grady’s strength and power had caused Watford problems earlier in the half but here it was the strength of his shot that almost nabbed an equaliser. His effort from twenty-odd yards was bending and swerving but the Brazilian ‘keeper watched to slap behind. He almost went from hero to villain straight after when he flapped at a cross. but Brighton couldn’t quite force the ball home. The sides went into the break with Deeney’s strike separating them.

60WAT Deeney goal 60WAT Analysis

Watford began the second half well and almost doubled the lead within ten minutes. Again, Brighton failed to clear their lines, allowing Guedioura to try some trickery on the edge of the box. The ball found its way through to an unmarked Odion Ighalo six yards out. He tried to round Stockdale, in doing so Guedioura took over with the first time finish – the goalkeeper dived at his feet excellently to block for a corner. The Albion attempted to address this by bringing on a player for his Amex farewell, replacing one likely to be doing the same. Craig Mackail-Smith arrived with half an hour remaining to a fantastic reception, coming on for Middlesbrough loanee Mustapha Carayol. Watford, perhaps looking for a counter attacking opportunity, introduced the pace of striker Matej Vydra on for Ighalo with the result not yet secure.

The changes made some difference, with Brighton pushing for an equaliser. But they just weren’t getting enough bodies into the box. Substitute Inigo Calderon, on for the injured Bruno, produced a very good cross for Chris O’Grady. His powerful header landed just wide of the post. The replays showed it actually bobbled up off a bit of sand patching up the pitch in the goalmouth, causing the ball to head wide instead of in! One for the groundsman to reconsider. In previous games, the diagonal ball to switch play worked a treat for Brighton but was finding it harder to come by today. As the game approached the final few minutes, Lewis Dunk clipped a terrific pass out wide to Calderon. His cut back saw Dale Stephens free on the edge, but he didn’t quite catch the low shot right and Gomes was able to get down to collect the tame effort.

But Albion’s best chance fell to Mackail-Smith in stoppage time. With bodies in the box, Brighton’s cross was cleared out as far as sub LuaLua. He headed it up to Calderon on the edge, who cleverly chested the ball beyond the Hornets defence to find the striker. Mackail-Smith just waited that fraction too long as the ball wouldn’t settle, allowing Gomes to rush out of goal and bravely punch away as he was ready to pull the trigger, whilst the rebound came to nothing.

In the fifth of five minutes of injury time, Watford sealed the three points with a terrific counter attacking goal. With the Seagulls upfield chasing that equaliser, the visitors managed to clear the ball to the half way line. The pace and determination of Troy Deeney saw him gather the loose ball on the near touchline. Dribbling it forward, he looked up to see Matej Vydra the only person in the middle with no defender anywhere near him. Deeney found him with a good pass, Vydra controlled well with his chest as Gordon Greer sprinted back. It was to no avail though as Vydra’s second touch was a terrific finish into the bottom left-hand corner of Stockdale’s net. Co-commentator Don Goodman called it when Vydra was brought on, saying they’d be looking to counter with his pace. Watford secured all three points to put them within touching distance of the Premier League again.

60WAT Table top 60WAT Table bottom

BRIGHTON 0 WATFORD 2
Deeney, Vydra

60WAT Replay.JPG

PREVIOUS; #59 BRIGHTON 0-2 BOURNEMOUTH 10/04/2015

NEXT; #61 BRIGHTON 1-0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 07/08/2015

#59: Brighton 0-2 Bournemouth 10/04/2015

#59 BRIGHTON 0-2 BOURNEMOUTH Championship
Friday 10th April 2015 Image result for

59BOU Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Darren Anderton
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Don Goodman REPORTER David Craig
7.45pm Kick Off; The Amex     7.30-10pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

59BOU Ident 59BOU Sponsor 59BOU Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

Chris Hughton had been in charge of the Albion for three months by the time this televised clash at The Amex came around in early April. In that time he had made leaps in stabilising a hugely misfiring Brighton side. Hughton achieved six League victories, two more than Sami Hyypia did in the opening five months of the campaign.

On the back of the FA Cup Third Round win at Brentford in Hughton’s first match in charge, he followed it up with three points in the capital at Charlton the following Saturday. A first home win in six arrived when promotion chasing Ipswich were left empty handed towards the end of January. Form dipped after the televised Cup defeat at home to Arsenal, with two defeats and two draws, and the club found themselves back just one place above the Championship drop zone.

Back-to-back wins at The Amex with the first Saturday-Tuesday six points arrived as February drew to a close. Birmingham were edged by the odd goal in seven thanks to braces from Inigo Calderon and Joao Teixeira for a massive win. Three days later, Leeds were sent back to Yorkshire with their tails between their legs, losing two-nil to the Albion for the second time this season. This double celebration lifted Brighton to eighteenth, their highest position since September.

Defeat in a crunch game at the bottom at Bolton was swiftly forgotten with revenge over Derby, our conquerors in the Play Off Semis the year before. Two more vital points were picked up with draws at home to Wolves and away at Millwall in mid-November kept things ticking along. Then an absolutely vital win away at Blackburn thanks to a Matt Kilgallon own goal rocketed Brighton up to sixteenth ahead of the Easter period. More importantly, it put clear daylight between the club and the relegation zone with only a handful of matches to play.

Tonight’s visitors Bournemouth were enjoying one of their best ever seasons. They were firmly in the promotion picture having sat in the top four since October, following their record high eight-nil success at Birmingham. Now, they were going every step of the way with Norwich, Watford and Middlesbrough for the title. Bournemouth hadn’t lost since February, with just eight defeats all season. Between October and November, the Cherries went on an unbeaten sixteen match run – thirteen of which were victories. Eddie Howe was on the verge of guiding Bournemouth up to the Premier League for the very first time. The Sky cameras were in town to witness the next leg of their fantastic march from the bottom to the top. This was the one-hundredth League meeting between the two Meridian region clubs.

 

THE TEAMS

59BOU Brighton

A couple of new faces were brought in to the Albion during the January transfer window. The most notable addition was Israeli international midfielder Beram Kayal from Celtic. He spent four-and-a-half-years in Glasgow with mixed results. His debut got off to a cracker, winning Man of the Match and assisting one of the goals. But injury cost him three months of the season before it had barely got going. He went on to captain the Hoops for the occasional game, nabbed the League’s Player of the Month award for January 2011 and won the Premiership title in his first full season. But the following season was again blighted by injury, ankle ligaments ruling him out for the second half of the campaign. He lifted the SPL title a further three times before the move down South for an undisclosed fee.

Another addition to the line-up was Gambian winger Mustapha Carayol. He signed on loan from Middlesbrough at the end of March, making his first appearance in the disappointing defeat at Rotherham the following day. Tonight was his home debut. A ruptured ankle ligament a year earlier had kept him out of action and joined the Seagulls to gain match practice. Carayol joined ‘Boro in 2012 having previously been on the books of Torquay, Lincoln and Bristol Rovers. He was no stranger to Sussex, spending two-thirds of a season on loan at Crawley early in his career.

Alongside the new recruits in the midfield was the flair and excitement of Liverpool loanee Joao Teixeira, the club’s top scorer this season in the League with six. Dale Stephens was fully on the comeback trail having missed the first half of the campaign through injury sustained this time last year. Inigo Calderon continued to be deployed on the right wing, joining the attack as well as supporting fellow Spaniard Bruno behind him at full back. There was no Gordon Greer available so Greg Halford, on loan from Nottingham Forest, partnered one of our own, Lewis Dunk, at the heart of the defence.

Goals were still hard to come by and, having tried various options and combinations, a new face was being tried to see out the season. Leon Best transferred on loan to the Seagulls from the end of January. Himself a former Cherry, Best joined Brighton from Blackburn but also had a loan spell earlier in the year at Derby County. He was yet to score a goal for either us or Derby in almost thirty appearances. Whilst Darren Bent flourished on loan earlier on, Leon Best was really struggling. Options on the bench included goal scorer against Arsenal in the Cup, Chris O’Grady, and a man more used to coming off the bench this season than starting, Craig Mackail-Smith. Veteran Northern Irish defender Aaron Hughes was there if the back line needed shoring up.

59BOU Subs 59BOU Bournemouth

Championship Manager of the Month Eddie Howe was on the brink of guiding Bournemouth from the bottom Division in 2009/10 all the way up to the very top just five seasons later, with an eighteen-month break managing Burnley in the middle. He made one change from their Easter Monday win as Marc Pugh returned following an ankle knock. Pugh was amongst the scorers when Bournemouth won against Brighton in November. This was pretty much Howe’s strongest eleven. Only Yann Kermorgant didn’t begin the reverse fixture, but he did come off the bench to score the decisive penalty.

The heart of the defence was very much ‘made in Brighton’, with captain Tommy Elphick playing over a hundred-and-fifty League appearances for the Albion over a seven-year period after coming up through the youth system at his hometown club. Had it not been for injury in the final match of the League One title winning campaign of 2010/11, which sidelined him for the entirety of the following season, he could have been leading the Seagulls out now. Fellow centre-half Steve Cook too came up through the academy at Brighton, having been born in nearby Hastings. His first team career in Sussex was much less successful, beginning just seven matches for the Albion over a four-year period, four of which came in Cup competitions. After various loan spells with lower and non-League teams, he moved to Dean Court permanently in January 2012 for £150,000. Both Elphick and Cook played every match of this season.

They weren’t just solid at the back; Bournemouth were also the Division’s top scorers. Callum Wilson, in his first season at the club, scored in all three competitions totalling twenty to date. Strike partner Yann Kermorgant netted a further fifteen in his first full season on the South Coast. If they weren’t firing, options on the bench included Kenwyne Jones, signed a couple of weeks earlier on loan from Cardiff, and Brett Pitman, himself with fourteen goals to his name in League and Cup. Tonight’s referee was Mr Craig Pawson.

 

THE COVERAGE & PRESENTATION TEAM

59BOU Thomas 59BOU Anderton

Sky Sports’ Friday night presentation came on-air fifteen minutes before the usual 7.45pm kick off. Going under the FL72 branding and sponsored by Screwfix, Sky’s Football League programming used the same style graphics as the Premier League, but with a red background instead of a blue one. The theme tune was provided by Woodkid, with their track Run Boy Run. Number one FL72 host Simon Thomas anchored proceedings alongside his guest Darren Anderton. Thomas had been hosting Live League matches for Sky since for over five years, graduating from Sky Sports News and stepping up to be main host for 2011/12. Darren Anderton enjoyed success with Tottenham and England but was present tonight for his connection to Bournemouth, where he spent two seasons to see out his career. He was also the guest for the televised reverse fixture back in November, where he was alongside second choice host Natalie Sawyer.

59BOU Pitchside 59BOU Hughton split screen

Thomas and Anderton presented tonight’s build up from pitchside in front of the West Stand towards the South side of the stadium and were accompanied by the magnificent Championship trophy; the prize Bournemouth had firmly set their sights on. The Cherries were the main focus, understandably, what with them having probably their best ever season. They topped the table, a point above both Norwich in second and Watford in third. Middlesbrough came next, two points adrift. The most important point was it was all in their own hands now for Bournemouth. The pitchside team talked through their remarkable fightback from two-nil down at home to Birmingham on Easter Monday to turn it around with four goals. Reporter David Craig, a regular in the Championship this season and last, spoke with their manager Eddie Howe in the first portion of the show.

Brighton’s position was this; nine points clear of the relegation zone. The club sat in nineteenth ahead of this match, with Fulham and Rotherham below and Millwall, Wigan and Blackpool occupying the three danger positions at the foot. Blackpool were already down, that was confirmed. Wigan were eight points off safety with five games to play, Millwall fared slightly better – seven points behind Rotherham and with a game in hand over the rest of the bottom six. The Albion’s position was looking alright for now, but it was still all to play for especially as tough fixtures against teams vying for promotion were still to come.

After the pre-match advert break and with the teams waiting in the tunnel, we heard Chris Hughton’s thoughts in conversation with David Craig. Sky used the split-screen facility in order to show both, a feature of their FL72 coverage immediately before the kick off. Hughton was aware of Bournemouth’s attacking prowess but wanted his side to aim for similar; “We’ve gotta be a threat ourselves. We’ve been decent here, we’re on the back of a decent performance against Norwich. If you give away too much possession, you know they’re gonna hurt you.” Looking ahead beyond this season, he wanted the squad to use these final five matches to be positive, keep the gap between themselves and the relegation zone and make it a comfortable end rather than scrabbling around for points. As the teams emerged onto the field, it was time to hand up to the commentary pairing of Daniel Mann, second choice Football League voice, and Don Goodman, long serving analyst and ex-Wolves and Walsall forward.

59BOU Carayol 59BOU Studio

In the moments before the start, the commentary team picked out a couple of players to watch out for. For the Albion, Mustapha Carayol was fighting for a future as parent club Middlesbrough were unlikely to be offering him a new deal once it runs out in the summer. During the half time break, the presentation team moved up from pitchside to the usual studio box within the right side of the North Stand. Thankfully, the Championship trophy went with them as there was little else to talk about at the interval as neither side had mustered a shot on target! It was one of those halves. Having to talk over replays of a Brighton corner which nobody touched in the box spoke volumes.

As usual, after the full time whistle we heard some immediate reaction on the pitch from a couple of the key men speaking with reporter David Craig; tonight, Tommy Elphick and Man of the Match Yann Kermorgant from Bournemouth. The studio team moved back to their pitchside position for the ten minutes or so left of post-match analysis, where they were joined for the majority of it by winning manager Eddie Howe. He was rather disappointed with his side’s effort, perhaps credit to Brighton for neutralising their threats for such a long time. The trio reviewed the second half goals, with two very good finishes the difference. The season’s achievements were touched upon, with tonight’s goals taking Bournemouth’s tally to eighty-nine, overtaking their previous best in the old Division Three South back in 1956/57.

59BOU Match Stats 59BOU Coming Up

The match stats showed that Brighton created a few chances, more than their opponents, but just a solitary effort on target summed up the failures of the season. Bournemouth’s tally of two shots on target was “their joint lowest this season”, according to host Simon Thomas. Crucially though, they scored with both. When Eddie Howe was done playing the pundit role, we heard from his opposite number Chris Hughton, in conversation with reporter David Craig. Hughton said the result was “hard to take” given the performance up until the opening goal. “We’re playing a team that’s in great form, that are not top of the Division by coincidence. And I thought in most aspects of that seventy minutes I thought we were the better side. But that’s why they are where they are – because they’ve got that little bit of quality when it counts.” He acknowledged mistakes were made, both in not taking chances up front and errors leading to opportunities at the back. The areas for improvement over next season were obvious. One other result came from the evening, affecting the bottom of the table, as Fulham and Wigan drew. That kept Fulham below the Albion in the table, now just on goal difference, whilst Wigan leapfrogged Millwall into twenty-second, still seven points from safety. With just four matches remaining for Brighton, safety looked pretty secure if not yet mathematically. As the clock approached 10pm, it was time to say goodbye as another Live broadcast concluded.

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

59BOU Kick Off 59BOU Comms

The Championship title hunters kicked off tonight’s clash at The Amex, shooting towards the North Stand in the first half. Brighton had proved to be a more solid outfit under Chris Hughton than before and the game plan here was more than likely to be about cancelling Bournemouth’s threat above providing our own attacking impetus. Midfielder Dale Stephens set the early tempo with a crunching tackle six minutes in, lunging to win the loose ball against Matt Ritchie. Upon further inspection on the replay, he was fortunate to get away with it. His studs were showing, sliding through Ritchie to send the ball spinning elsewhere. Referee Craig Pawson was right on the spot just yards away with a perfect view and gave nothing, so the game continued but it was a dangerous challenge that really should have been punished with a yellow. Brighton didn’t allow their visitors to settle down in the opening exchanges, winning the ball back quickly and moving forward with more of a purpose than we had seen for patches this season.

The Albion pushed forward, earning a couple of corners. The presence of top scorer Lewis Dunk and six-foot defender Greg Halford were the target men from set pieces, but they couldn’t quite be found. Joao Teixeira had an opportunity when he created a couple of yards of space in the box, his strike firing just too high from a difficult angle. But this was exactly what the Seagulls supporters were crying out for, taking the game to their opponents. Co-commentator Don Goodman though summed up the situation when he said; “The only thing missing is that goal, really. For all of the good play and all of the good work they’ve done, Artur Boruc in the goal hasn’t had a save to make.” The key stat showed Brighton with more first half attempts but none of them on target. The sides went into the break goalless. A creditable, if not memorable, first forty-five for the Albion.

59BOU Kermorgant goal 59BOU Wilson goal

The second half began with a familiar pattern, as Brighton were urged forward by the supporters. Dale Stephens, in the thick of things once more, had a decent opportunity when the ball was won back just outside the Bournemouth box. Joao Teixeira tried to trick his way past the defence, they stood firm and the loose ball was latched onto by Stephens. His first-time shot flew just too high. A similar chance fell his way minutes later. This time on his weaker left with bodies charging him down. The result went the same way as before. Spells such as this needed to be capitalised on. Leon Best got the game’s first shot on target just before the hour mark, though in truth it was weaker than a backpass. The sort of effort from a man lacking in confidence and without a goal all season for two different clubs.

With around twenty minutes remaining, Bournemouth had their first shot on target. And what a shot, it provided the breakthrough to give the visitors the lead. Lewis Dunk’s late challenge gave Bournemouth a free kick twenty-five yards out, providing Dunk with his eleventh booking of the season. Co-commentator Goodman prophesised before the kick, “On a night where it hasn’t flowed for them, they are capable of the spectacular from situations like this.” Yann Kermorgant took the free kick with his right, as David Stockdale took two mini-steps to his left. That little movement was crucial as the goalkeeper was then committed one way before having to dive the other. Stockdale at full stretch couldn’t get there and the ball curled into the top right-hand corner of his net for a wonderful goal.

The result was sealed with ten minutes remaining as Bournemouth doubled their lead through Callum Wilson. Yann Kermorgant won the ball back in the middle of the park and played a terrific lobbed through ball from the centre circle towards Wilson just outside the box. He brought the ball down on the turn, managing to get behind his marker Greg Halford. Wilson tried to cut inside on his left by which time Halford was back in position. The striker patiently held it up, this time cutting the other way and skipping past his man. Before left back Joe Bennett could charge in the way, Wilson unleashed his strike past Stockdale and in for two-nil. Brighton had to make them wait for a long time, but two clinical finishes for Bournemouth’s only two shots on target in the match ensured the three points were heading back up along the Coast.

59BOU Top 59BOU Bottom

BRIGHTON 0 BOURNEMOUTH 2
Kermorgant, Wilson

59BOU Replay

PREVIOUS; #58 BRIGHTON 2-3 ARSENAL 25/01/2015

NEXT; #60 BRIGHTON 0-2 WATFORD 25/04/2015

#58: Brighton 2-3 Arsenal 25/01/2015

#58 BRIGHTON 2-3 ARSENAL FA Cup Round Four
Sunday 25th January 2015 Image result for bt sport logo

58ARS Titles.JPG

PRESENTER Jake Humphrey GUESTS Adam Virgo, Ian Wright & Steve McManaman
COMMENTATORS Ian Darke & Robbie Savage REPORTER Ray Stubbs
4pm Kick Off; The Amex     3.30-6.30pm FA Cup Live on BT Sport 1

58ARS Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

Sami Hyypia resigned from his position as Brighton and Hove Albion manager on Monday 22nd December 2014, with the club four points adrift in the Championship relegation zone.

Hyypia was in charge for just twenty-five first team matches. With a win ratio of just 24%, he achieved victory in just six games, half of which came in the League Cup. In fact, the Capital One Cup was probably the only success of his time on the South Coast, as the Seagulls went through to the Fourth Round for just the fifth time in the history of the competition, and the first since the 1979-80 season. Wins came against lower League opposition; defeating Cheltenham at The Amex before overcoming Swindon and Burton Albion on their travels. The run came to an end at White Hart Lane when Tottenham knocked Brighton out by two goals to nil.

Of the three League victories, two came back in August when Leeds and Bolton were dispatched back-to-back. The defeat of Wigan back on 4th November ended a run of eleven without success in the Championship. The team that had overachieved to reach the Play Offs in each of the previous two years were now sat in the drop zone at the halfway point in the campaign. Head of football operations, David Burke, followed Hyypia out two days later, indicating that it was recruitment as well as performances that the club struggled with.

Assistant manager and former Albion winger Nathan Jones took temporary charge and brought an immediate upturn in fortunes over the Christmas period. Boxing Day saw an entertaining two-all draw with Reading as Glenn Murray frustrated his former employers by scoring twice for the Royals. This was followed up three days later with an outstanding two-nil win away at Fulham to give the supporters some end of year cheer.

58ARS Hughton

On New Year’s Eve, former Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich boss Chris Hughton was appointed manager on a three-and-a-half-year deal. As a player, Hughton spent thirteen years with Tottenham before a couple of years with West Ham and then Brentford took him into the early 1990s. He played over fifty times for the Republic of Ireland, making the squads for Euro ’88 and World Cup ’90. At Spurs, he lifted the FA Cup twice and the UEFA Cup in a successful start to the 1980s. He returned to the Lane coaching straight after retirement in 1993, where he moved up the rankings from being in charge of the under-21s, then the reserves before coaching the first team over a fourteen-year period.

Hughton first made the step up to manager at Newcastle United in 2009 and achieved promotion from the Championship at the first time of asking. Despite this, he was surprisingly sacked in December of the following season in a move which was condemned by players, fans and pundits alike. After a six-month break, he was back in management at Championship side Birmingham. He guided them to fourth place but lost in the Play Off Semi Finals to Blackpool. On the back of this, top flight Norwich City came calling. Tasked with keeping the Canaries up, he achieved an eleventh placed finish in his first season. Things didn’t go quite as well during the second year, but the club pulled the trigger somewhat at an odd time, with just a month left. They were in seventeenth and a point above relegation when Hughton was dismissed but were relegated a few weeks later under replacement Neil Adams. In the eight months that passed, Hughton was reportedly approached by other clubs but did not accept.

He cited the infrastructure at Brighton as being a deciding factor in choosing this one. Hughton’s first game in charge saw the Albion progress past his old club Brentford in the Third Round of the FA Cup with two late goals. That was followed with a one-nil victory at Charlton before Brentford got a revenge win at The Amex in the League. In midweek, another victory arrived as Ipswich were edged out three-two to ease the pressure and move the club up into nineteenth.

Today’s opponents Arsenal were enjoying much more consistency under Arsene Wenger. They won the FA Cup last season to end a run of nine years without a trophy and began this 2014/15 campaign well. They sat fifth in the Premier League, losing just five matches. To reach the Fourth Round they defeated Hull in a rematch of that Final. The Gunners defeated Brighton at this stage of the competition back in 2013, would they repeat the feat this time round with the added spotlight of Live television coverage?

 

THE TEAMS

58ARS Brighton

This was the fifth match of Chris Hughton’s reign at Brighton, beginning with the Brentford victory in the previous round. Captain Gordon Greer and makeshift right midfielder Inigo Calderon had started every game under the new boss and were also the only two Brighton survivors from this fixture two years ago. Goalkeeper David Stockdale signed from Fulham in the summer and played the first three months of the season before picking up an injury. That forced a ‘keeper crisis which saw Ali Al-Habsi drafted in on an emergency loan for one match and teenager Christian Walton start away at Tottenham in the Capital One Cup followed by two unbeaten Championship appearances in November. Since returning at Norwich later that month, Stockdale had played every minute. Lewis Dunk’s red card in the League loss to Brentford saw him miss the Ipswich game this week but was straight back in the eleven here.

Midfielder Dale Stephens remained a long-term absentee, having been forced off last April with an ankle problem. Impressive loanee Joao Teixeira was missing through illness. Dutchman Danny Holla and young Englishman Jake Forster-Caskey took two of the spots in the middle. Rohan Ince joined last season in mind for the development squad but quickly became a part of the first team. He scored a wonder volley at Swindon in the League Cup tie back in August, which earned him the Seagulls 2014 Goal of the Season accolade.

Around £2million was spent on striker Sam Baldock from Bristol City. He returned just two goals to date, including the opener in midweek. Chris O’Grady scored in stoppage time at Brentford in Round Three, his first for the Albion. Despite only joining in July, he struggled to get into the first team under Sami Hyypia and spent a month on loan at Sheffield United before being recalled on the day of the Fulham victory after Christmas. Adrian Colunga was an attacking presence on the bench, alongside Craig Mackail-Smith and Solly March. Defender Glen Rea was yet to play for the Seagulls but did make his Republic of Ireland under-21 debut in November. The contrast between Sami Hyypia’s squad and this one was clear; only one loanee started today – Aston Villa’s Joe Bennett. In the last televised starting eleven, at Millwall in December, Brighton fielded the maximum of five loan players.

58ARS Arsenal

Arsene Wenger made seven changes from their crucial two-nil victory at Manchester City in the Premier League. This included a return for goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, his first start since New Year’s Day. Defender Calum Chambers won the fans Player of the Month award for August, having joined from Southampton in the summer. Left-back Kieran Gibbs represented England at under-19, 20, 21 and senior level all since signing pro terms with Arsenal in 2007.

Theo Walcott scored in this fixture in 2013 but suffered FA Cup heartbreak the following season when he ruptured knee ligaments. That kept him out of the 2014 World Cup and on the sidelines for ten months before returning in November. Fellow midfielder Aaron Ramsey began life at Cardiff before transferring to London in 2008. He became a key part of Wales core and played in all four of Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic matches. Three-time Czech Republic Player of the Year Tomas Rosicky won the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund.

Striker Olivier Giroud netted twice at The Amex last time out. Mesut Ozil started for the first time since early October. Among the substitutes included talisman Alexis Sanchez, signed from Barcelona for £30million this season, and Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla won the European Championships in both 2008 and 2012. Also on the bench was England under-19 striker Chuba Akpom. The match referee was the Premier League’s Michael Oliver.

58ARS Formations

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

58ARS Humphrey 58ARS Virgo

The face of football on BT Sport was their star presenter Jake Humphrey. He was one of BBC Sport’s rising stars, hosting Olympic and Commonwealth Games, NFL Superbowl and BBC Sports Personality of the Year coverage, amongst other big events. He first came to prominence on children’s television, hosting programmes such as Bamzooki and the Fame Academy spin-off. After serving his apprenticeship with CBBC, he was keen to move into sports broadcasting and hosted all sorts of lower profile events that didn’t have a regular core team. He provided holiday cover on Football Focus and Final Score. Undoubtedly, the biggest sporting break came in 2009 when the BBC won back rights to Formula One, naming Humphrey as anchor. His profile grew, playing a part of Euro 2012 and both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. When the call came from BT Sport to front their Live football, he made the switch to launch this new venture.

Joining Humphrey pitchside at The Amex were pundits Ian Wright, Steve McManaman and Adam Virgo. Wright and McManaman were both key regulars on BT’s Premier League coverage, whilst Virgo was their co-commentator on the National League. Former Albion defender Virgo needs little introduction on here, having already played, scored, pundited and commentated on previous televised Brighton matches! He spent seven seasons playing for the Seagulls, over two spells, having graduated from the youth system. Spells at Celtic, Yeovil and Colchester followed before bringing his playing career to a close at Bristol Rovers. Following retirement in July 2013, he made the move into the media having previously appeared on Sky Sports and BBC Radio Sussex. In the Autumn of 2013, Virgo made his television co-commentary debut on BT Sport’s coverage of the National League alongside Steve Bower, a position he instantly made his own and became a BT regular.

58ARS Wright 58ARS McManaman

Ian Wright was very much the one that got away as far as Brighton were concerned. In November 1983, recently appointed Albion boss Chris Cattlin had nineteen-year-old Wright on trial at the Goldstone. The striker played twice for the reserves, scoring in the first match but was not taken on full-time, much to his surprise and disappointment. The Albion’s loss was Crystal Palace’s gain, as he joined Steve Coppell’s lot in 1985 where he began banging in the goals in a six-year spell at Selhurst. His big move was to join Arsenal in 1991 for £2.5million where he went on to earn legendary status, becoming the club’s all-time record goalscorer (which he held until 2005) and bagging the League title in the process. He also lifted two FA Cups, a League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup at Highbury. Post-Arsenal, he played for West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Celtic and Burnley before calling it a day in 2000. Since even before then, he forged a hugely successful television and radio career as both a pundit and an entertainment presenter. He joined BT from launch in 2013 to work across their domestic football, as well as being in the unusual position of doing BBC Match of the Day and international football for ITV.

Steve McManaman’s playing career was most associated with nine years at Liverpool before joining Spanish giants Real Madrid in 1999. He lifted the UEFA Champions League in his first season, scoring in the three-nil Final victory over Valencia. Subsequent seasons saw two La Liga titles and a further Champions League victory before he returned to England in 2003 with Manchester City. He won thirty-seven England caps, scoring three goals including the crashing strike to go two-nil up against Portugal in Euro 2000. He hung up his boots in 2005 upon his release by City and subsequently became a leading television pundit, firstly for Setanta Sports between 2007 and 2009. He teamed up in the commentary box with Ian Darke for America television with ESPN before joining BT in 2013.

58ARS Studio

His old sparring partner was on The Amex gantry here, as Ian Darke was joined by Robbie Savage. Darke covered boxing and football for BBC Radio for more than a decade before joining Sky Sports ahead of their Premier League launch in 1992. Teaming up with Andy Gray on the first three seasons of Monday Night Football, Darke then moved across to be the voice of boxing for a generation. He combined this back with Live football again from 2005 but was soon back behind Martin Tyler and Rob Hawthorne in the pecking order. In 2010 he made the move to the States with ESPN, covering the pick for the English top flight, before returning to UK screens to lead BT’s commentaries in 2013.

Robbie Savage worked hard to forge a career as a battling midfielder in the Premier League for the likes of Leicester, Birmingham and Blackburn having been released from Manchester United’s phenomenally successful youth side of the early 1990s. He switched to Derby in January 2008 but couldn’t force his way into the side for the start of the next campaign. He somehow ended up joining Brighton under Micky Adams, whom he worked with at Leicester. His one-month loan was hardly a success but, crucially for Savage, at least he was back playing in the first team again. After linking back up with Derby, and following a managerial change, Savage was a regular fixture in the midfield a renaissance in the East Midlands for another two seasons before retiring in 2011. His niggly, irritating playing style earned him a bad reputation amongst supporters of all clubs, often being the butt of jokes or the designated ‘boo-boy’. Despite this, he enjoyed a post-playing career in the media, starting with the BBC and ESPN before being taken on by BT as an analyst and co-commentator. From this season, along with BT commentator Darren Fletcher, he hosted two-hour Saturday morning preview programme Fletch and Sav ahead of the Live Premier League match.

One of the on-air mistakes Setanta made when joining the English football market was with their pitchside reporter. Alex Hayes, a fine print journalist at The Independent on Sunday, struggled to ask fluent questions of managers and players with the microphone, making for an awkward watch, before being dumped a few weeks in for Kelly Cates and Dan Roan. BT made no such mistake with their interviewer, employing a man with thirty years’ experience at the BBC and ESPN; Ray Stubbs. He joined BT as number one reporter from launch, covering the Premier League and FA Cup. Previously, he was front and centre hosting ESPN’s Live coverage of the same competitions, as well as a whole raft of high-profile events on the BBC. This included Match of the Day, Sportsnight, Grandstand, Football Focus and Final Score, as well as three Summer Olympics, the 1998 Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games. He reported from the England camp in both Euro ’96 and World Cup ’98 and interviewed at various FA Cup Finals throughout the 1990s. Stubbs brought an authority and gravitas to BT amongst a largely younger approach.

 

THE COVERAGE

58ARS Promo 58ARS Sponsor

The newest players on the British football broadcasting scene, BT Sport, were in their second season following launch in August 2013. Built on the foundation of thirty-eight exclusively Live Premier League matches having outbid previous holders ESPN, they then acquired the channel – in the process obtaining their key rights such as Premiership Rugby and American sports. This also included the final season of their FA Cup deal, which expired last season. From the start of this campaign, the Cup switched hands from ITV to BBC, whilst BT Sport retained their position as the satellite broadcaster. Under the new contract, BT would air up to thirty matches Live throughout the competition, including sharing the Final. Which brings us to this Fourth Round weekend as January drew to a close. BT’s three Live picks kicked off with Liverpool versus Bolton on the Saturday evening and concluded with Rochdale against Stoke on Monday night. Sandwiched in the middle was the Albion, who were drawn to host holders Arsenal in this Sunday afternoon clash.

58ARS Drone shots 58ARS Withdean

Coverage was sponsored by William Hill, yet another gambling firm to get involved in football broadcasting. BT Sport didn’t really do title sequences. The intros last season consisted of the BT globe logo spinning from the centre into the bottom left hand corner, with a short burst of music. That was retained for League coverage this year, but the FA Cup was given a makeover with an animated trophy and block bars listing the two clubs. The music was specially composed for BT to use on their Cup broadcasts, in use for its second season. Build up began thirty minutes before the 4pm kick-off, with beautiful aerial drone shots hovering over the Pier, seafront, the site of the former Goldstone stadium, now a retail park, and Withdean. This was all to highlight the contrast in where Brighton were from the glory days of the 1983 FA Cup Final through to the dark days of the 1990s. The graphics had been used since BT’s launch, nicely animating in and out from the channel logo position in the bottom right corner of the screen.

The presentation team of Jake Humphrey with pundits Adam Virgo, Ian Wright and Steve McManaman were situated pitchside at The Amex in front of the West Stand. Pitchside presentation was very much BT’s go-to position, allowing Humphrey the freedom to move around and explore the stadium in similar fashion when he successfully fronted the BBC’s F1 broadcasts. With Ian Wright very much an Arsenal man, McManaman assumed the role of neutral, whilst Virgo was clearly present to talk eloquently and knowledgeably about the Albion. The FA Cup trophy itself was on display alongside the team, on the back of three of the Premier League’s top four crashing out the previous day. Some of the goals and incidents from the key games played thus far on Fourth Round weekend were shown, with the pundits talking us through the action. Manchester United could only muster a goalless draw at Cambridge, League One Bradford ran riot at Chelsea scoring four, Spurs crashed out and Manchester City were upset by Middlesbrough.

58ARS Gordon Smith 58ARS Jimmy Case

The focus of the VT package in the pre-match coverage was around the Seagulls 1983 FA Cup campaign. Of course. Two members of the Cup Final starting line-up – Gordon Smith and Jimmy Case – both recounted their tales from that memorable run. Striker – and often forgotten as a Final goalscorer – Smith outlined the Albion thought process; “We had this plan, let’s be really relaxed and see how the Man United boys cope with that. We’ll come in the tunnel laughing and joking.” Tough tackling midfielder Case spoke about getting stuck into Manchester United’s Ray Wilkins early on; “I clattered Wilkins a couple of times. I used to love some of them tackles what you used to throw in every now and again!” Physio Malcolm Yaxley was also interviewed, as he tried to repair Chris Ramsey on the pitch following a hard challenge by Norman Whiteside. It was to no avail as Ramsey was just a yard short of Frank Stapleton who netted United’s equaliser after Smith put Brighton in front. Then came the famous Gordon Smith moment. In the last minute of Extra Time, with the scores level at two-all, he was put through on goal. Cue Peter Jones’ BBC Radio commentary line, with the commentator not missing a beat, “And Smith must score. And he hasn’t scored. And Bailey has saved it. And there goes the whistle for the end of Extra Time.” Of that chance, Smith honestly and bluntly admitted; “My decision I made was wrong, and I cost Brighton the Cup.”

58ARS Last meeting 58ARS Dunk

Attention then turned back to this afternoon’s clash. The two sides met at this stage two years earlier, with the Gunners edging a five-goal thriller. Humphrey asked Virgo if Brighton had a similar performance in them now to that day. “Well they have now, under the new manager Chris Hughton”, Virgo began. “I must admit if Sami was still here then you’d be slightly worried about the performance.” They picked out defender Lewis Dunk to preview, with Humphrey saying, “lots of clubs were sniffing around him.” As a former defender, Adam Virgo was well placed to praise the current Albion centre half, highlighting his ability on the ball as a particular strength on top of the threat he posed from set pieces in attack.

58ARS Cool people 58ARS Walcott

After the break, we saw a Brighton-made video spoofing one of the latest adverts BT used to promote their coverage. In BT’s ad, a few of their star names were shown walking slow-motion down the touchline with the strapline “The cool people to watch football with”, which Humphrey insisted was “completely tongue in cheek!” So a few Albion fans followed suit, with Albion Roar radio hosts Alan Wares and Ady Packham amongst the contingent. Wares then briefly chatted to Humphrey pitchside to explain “the mickey take of a mickey take”.

Back to the more serious business, reporter Ray Stubbs spoke with both managers; Chris Hughton and Arsene Wenger. Hughton explained the absence of star midfielder Joao Teixeira, missing through illness. It was a tough blow, particularly after another impressive performance in the midweek Ipswich win. Asked about his early impressions of the Albion’s potential, Hughton was quick to talk the club up; “Everyone will see today the stadium that we have here, which I think is a record crowd for the stadium. The training facility is excellent. But we’re not in the best position in the League and that’s certainly our priority.” After this, we heard the final thoughts of the studio team as they picked out returning stars Walcott and Ozil among Arsenal’s danger men, before another quick break. After which, we headed up to the gantry where commentators Ian Darke and Robbie Savage were waiting to take over.

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A feature of the channel’s coverage was their picture-in-picture split-screen, dubbed the ‘BT Box’. This was utilised, especially on replays, to show the Live action in the box and the replayed passage on the main screen. The box would also be used to show the bench or a different part of the action during play. At half-time, still presenting from pitchside, the team reviewed the two Arsenal goals. For the opener, Wright and Virgo were critical of Sam Baldock’s lack of challenge on the wing to allow Calum Chambers a crossing opportunity. They were impressed by Walcott’s finish and cited the difference in quality between the two Divisions as the difference. McManaman described Brighton’s half as “very, very poor”, allowing Arsenal too much space to play their football and showing a lack of adventure going forward.

58ARS Sub 58ARS European Football Show

After the final whistle and the advert break, there was around half an hour left before James Richardson and his journalistic experts took over for the usual Sunday evening European Football Show, rounding up the events on the continent before hosting Live coverage of a top match; tonight Fiorentina versus Roma. Reporter Ray Stubbs was busy in the tunnel gathering interviews with all the key men. He spoke first with two of Arsenal’s goalscorers; Theo Walcott and Man of the Match Tomas Rosicky, then latterly the manager Arsene Wenger. The studio team repositioned themselves slightly, in front of the dugouts by the tunnel, to wrap things up.

For Brighton’s first goal by Chris O’Grady, Adam Virgo dismissed talk of a foul on Chambers before the strike. Ian Wright questioned why Brighton didn’t make more use of O’Grady’s strength and power in the second period, seconded by Steve McManaman. On Arsenal’s third, it was of Brighton’s own making by giving away possession cheaply and dangerously. The finish though, real quality. Baldock’s goal to make it two-three was labelled “a great finish” by Virgo, with the assist from Holla also garnering praise. He also was pleased to see Brighton “passing with a purpose”, rather than just keeping the ball for the sake of it. Some of Arsenal’s defensive play caused concern for Wright.

Chris Hughton’s post-match thoughts were gathered by Ray Stubbs, particularly pleased with the response after the break. “Too often in that first half period we were too deep, not allowing ourselves to get out of trouble but I thought we stretched the game better in that second half. We certainly made more of a game of it and close in the end.” The final portion of the programme centred around the FA Cup weekend as a whole, with a glossy report reviewing some of the key incidents, goals and upsets from the previous day. This included a Leonardo Ulloa goal for Leicester in their surprise win at Tottenham. Back pitchside, the pundits talked through the goals from Sunday’s other ties as West Ham and Aston Villa both progressed. And with that it was time to go as another Live Albion broadcast came to a close.

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

58ARS Kick Off 58ARS Comms

In front of a record crowd at The Amex of 30,278 supporters, Arsenal kicked the game off shooting from right to left using the Cup’s salmon pink ball. And they got the breakthrough after just eighty-nine seconds thanks to that man again, Theo Walcott. Calum Chambers did well on the far touchline to skip past Sam Baldock’s challenge and gain a bit of space. His cross found Walcott twelve yards out on the right of the penalty area. The touch to control allowed him to quickly adapt his feet and suddenly a shooting opportunity arrived. Walcott drove the ball low and hard across the goal into the corner of the net for the perfect start. Arsenal executed their game plan well in the first period, dominating the ball and attacking with threat. When Brighton were in possession, Arsenal allowed them to play it round the back and keep it in their own half. The two strikers switched over from their starting positions, with O’Grady moving from centre to the left wing to allow Baldock a chance to lead the line and try to get more joy. The two swapped and changed throughout.

Arsenal’s superior quality showed, particularly when in attack, with frightening pace and better decision making. With a quarter of the match played, they made it two-nil. It was all thanks to some patient build up play and Brighton standing off their top flight opponents. Tomas Rosicky was allowed the time to dribble the ball in acres of space from the wing to the middle, waiting for the right moment to make the pass. He picked it out superbly, cutting out four Albion defenders in the process, to find Mesut Ozil inside the penalty box. Before Lewis Dunk could slide across to attempt to block, Ozil got his shot off. Around twelve yards out, his left foot effort nestled in the left-hand corner of Stockdale’s net for another well taken goal. “Carved apart like precision surgeons there,” cried commentator Ian Darke. Co-commentator Robbie Savage had harsher words for the Albion play; “They’re giving top quality players too much space, they’re not winning second balls, they’re not getting the ball in the final third, Szczesny’s yet to be tested. We’re twenty-five minutes in, Darkie!”

Brighton’s first real chance came just before the half-hour point, when Sam Baldock curled an effort just high and wide. The ball broke to him free at the back post after Laurent Koscielny was caught dithering in the area by Calderon. Baldock’s right-foot aimed for the top corner but just couldn’t quite achieve the desired accuracy. The rest of the half was an improvement for Brighton but they could not penetrate the back line of the team in yellow. At the break it was two-nil to the Arsenal.

58ARS OGrady goal 58ARS Baldock goal

As the second period began, Robbie Savage was urging Brighton on to give it a go, totally unimpressed by their efforts thus far. Within five minutes, the deficit was halved through Chris O’Grady. Albion’s attack wasn’t cleared properly by Arsenal, with Rosicky booting the ball high up in the air instead of away from goal. Baldock outjumped Chambers to win the challenge as it dropped from the sky. The ball rolled off Chambers to the feet of O’Grady with his back to goal just inside the box. He cleverly let the ball run to his right foot on the half-turn, rolling his marker Mathieu Flamini in the process. O’Grady unleashed a fierce low drive into the near corner, through Koscielny’s legs en route, to give the Seagulls hope. The goalkeeper had no chance and the crowd roared, scoring with their first shot on target. Game on. “Ooh we’ve got a Cup tie now!” enthused Savage.

The bright spell continued for the next five minutes or so but you could sense Arsenal had more of a killer instinct. And if he didn’t cover himself in glory for the Brighton goal, Tomas Rosicky certainly made up for it just before the hour mark to restore their two-goal margin. Rosicky won the ball back off Holla in a dangerous area and provided a no-look pass to Giroud on the left of the penalty area. The striker chipped up a return pass to the Czech international on the edge of the box who volleyed it into the back of the net. What a strike. But again, no Albion shirts within five yards of him, allowing so much space and time to pick his target. Brighton’s response was to bring on Solly March to add another body going forward. Arsenal didn’t rest on their laurels, perhaps wary of another Brighton resurgence, bringing on strikers Chuba Akpom and Alexis Sanchez for the final twenty minutes.

However, Brighton did force their way back into it. Sam Baldock was the man to finish off a neat move to bring Albion back to within one of Arsenal. Lewis Dunk brought the ball forward from the half way line, allowed the freedom to stroll out of defence with no Arsenal man in sight. He found Danny Holla in space between the Gunners midfield and defensive lines. He guided it on to Baldock who latched onto the through ball. As Szczesny rushed out of his goal, Baldock gently lifted it over him to nestle nicely into the back of the net. A very well worked goal gave the Seagulls renewed hope into the final quarter of an hour.

If the first half was a disappointment for Brighton, the second was much better. It was more determined, more spirited and they showed more fight than before. But ultimately, as in 2013, it was not to be. Arsenal’s quality just too much to handle and the Gunners took the tie by three goals to two. The performance grew and gave Hughton and the supporters enough belief to believe they could do much better than the current League position of nineteenth showed. The rest of the season was now all about proving that and moving away from the Championship relegation zone. Arsenal would go on to lift the Cup for a second successive season.

58ARS 5th Round.JPG

BRIGHTON 2 ARSENAL 3
O’Grady, Baldock Walcott, Ozil, Rosicky

58ARS Replay

PREVIOUS; #57 BRIGHTON 0-1 MILLWALL 12/12/2014

NEXT; #59 BRIGHTON 0-2 BOURNEMOUTH 10/04/2015

#57: Brighton 0-1 Millwall 12/12/2014

#57 BRIGHTON 0-1 MILLWALL Championship
Friday 12th December 2014 Image result for

57MIL Titles

PRESENTER Natalie Sawyer GUESTS David Prutton & Keith Andrews
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Garry Birtles REPORTER David Craig
7.45pm Kick Off; The Amex     7.30-10pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

57MIL Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

It was proving to be a very difficult introduction to Sami Hyypia’s managerial career in England. Back-to-back Championship defeat sent the Seagulls into the drop zone in the opening weeks but had plateaued to just above there after that. However, defeat at home to Fulham at the end of November saw the team sink back into the red again where they sat ahead of tonight’s crunch clash with fellow strugglers Millwall. Time and patience were wearing incredibly thin, with supporters already calling for the manager’s head. Hyypia had just three League victories in the campaign to his name; away at Leeds and home to Bolton back in August was followed by an eleven-match winless streak.

A one-nil defeat of Wigan Athletic in the first midweek of November, thanks to a first-minute Gary Gardner strike, provided three absolutely vital points but five weeks later and it hadn’t been matched. Two draws and two abject defeats followed to place Brighton in twenty-second. The problem wasn’t necessarily losing matches, it was the sheer number of draws which hampered progress. Nine of the last sixteen fixtures ended all square, with a real lack of potency in the final third clear to see. The club didn’t replace Leonardo Ulloa when he was sold up to Leicester in pre-season, instead investing the £8million fee somewhat cheaply on unproven Championship strikers Sam Baldock, Adrian Colunga and Chris O’Grady. Between them the trio had scored just three goals, whilst centre back Lewis Dunk led the way on five in all competitions.

A whole host of loan players were brought in as a bid to improve performances, but the rules stated a maximum of five were allowed in the matchday squad at any one time, forcing certain players to miss out. The combination of not owning much of your squad with a huge number of injuries spelt trouble for a club that went so close to the Premier League in each of the previous two campaigns. Not many had anticipated such a drop in results.

Tonight’s opposition Millwall however, were far more used to this. They only narrowly survived the drop last time, changing managers half way through in the process. The 2014/15 season began far brighter with three wins in the opening five games, and progression to the Second Round of the League Cup. Form dropped off completely in September, losing four out of five. Going into the clash at The Amex, Millwall were in a dreadful run of form having won just once in fifteen. Sky Sports, perhaps in gallows humour, selected this fixture for Live broadcast on a cold, Friday night in December.

 

THE TEAMS

57MIL Brighton

Goalkeeper David Stockdale transferred from Fulham over the summer to come straight in as first choice following the release of Tomasz Kuszczak. However, he was forced to miss much of last month through injury. Spanish right-back Bruno missed even longer, as injury set him back six weeks but was fighting fit again. Today’s captain Lewis Dunk was partnered by former Colchester and Portsmouth centre-half Greg Halford. He was drafted in on loan from Nottingham Forest and made his Albion starting debut tonight covering in Gordon Greer’s absence. Left-back Adam Chicksen made the move from MK Dons eighteen months ago but struggled to maintain a first team place; behind Stephen Ward last season and Joe Bennett this. Chicksen went out on loan to Gillingham to gain playing minutes but was recalled prematurely just the day before tonight’s clash. With the maximum of five loan players in the starting line-up, Joe Bennett had to be left out.

Jake Forster-Caskey only missed one League match thus far in the middle of the park, whilst Liverpool loanee Joao Teixeira hadn’t started since the last win; against Wigan in the first week of November. Elliott Bennett won the League One title with the Albion back in 2011, earning himself a place in the Divisional Team of the Season en route, but then left Sussex for Premier League Norwich. After initial success there, injuries impacted his place; starting just twice during the Canaries relegation season in 2014. With spots limited, he re-joined Brighton on loan after the televised Bournemouth defeat. Winger Solly March started half of last season’s League games but didn’t feature in the side this campaign until last time out in the defeat to Derby due to a back injury.

The man charged with stopping the Seagulls rot in front of goal was the experienced Darren Bent. The Villa forward came in on a month’s loan and scored on debut in the defeat at Fulham two weeks ago. His top flight experience with the likes of Ipswich, Charlton, Tottenham and Sunderland, as well as thirteen senior England caps, provided contrast to a fairly youthful side. The bench included Adrian Colunga, who had just two goals to his name to date, and Paddy McCourt, a summer transfer from relegated Barnsley.

57MIL Millwall 57MIL Subs

Ian Holloway returned to The Amex for the first time as a manager since that disastrous Play Off Semi Final in 2013, having taken over at Millwall in January. He guided the Lions to Championship safety in nineteenth, four points above the drop. He brought in striker Lee Gregory from Halifax and Everton midfielder Magaye Gueye over the break. Goalkeeper David Forde became the Republic of Ireland’s oldest ever debutant when he started in a goalless draw at Sweden in 2013, aged thirty-three.

Defender Danny Shittu won promotion to this Division under Ian Holloway in 2004, the year when Albion joined them via the Play Offs. Centre back partner Mark Beevers was targeted by Rotherham over the summer but their bid was rejected. Martyn Woolford was a regular in the middle having joined eighteen months ago from Bristol City. Spanish midfielder Angel Martinez was at Blackpool with Holloway and the pair were reunited at Millwall for his debut tonight. Substitute options included former Yeovil midfielder Ed Upson and Jamaican international striker Ricardo Fuller. Refereeing the contest was James Linington.

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

57MIL Sawyer 57MIL Studio

Natalie Sawyer was once again at the helm for Brighton’s Live Championship match, following her first Seagulls game last month. Having begun hosting Leagues 1 and 2 and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy coverage last season, her role expanded to include some Championship games this season as number two behind Simon Thomas. This was previously the job of George Gavin, who very occasionally still covered Live matches, but was more regularly used to voice round-ups and present FL72 Preview and Review programming.

Joining Sawyer in the studio at The Amex was David Prutton and Keith Andrews. Prutton was Sky’s new signing this season, having retired from playing following a short spell with Coventry. The midfielder began at Nottingham Forest, coming through the youth system, spending five years in the East Midlands before moving up to the Premier League at Southampton. He spent three years at both Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday, amongst other Football League teams, before bringing his career to a close over the summer. As well as punditing on Sky’s FL72 Live and magazine programming, he was an in-vision reporter on Gillette Soccer Saturday travelling around the country covering the lower Leagues.

Keith Andrews spent the whole of last season on loan with Brighton under Oscar Garcia, making thirty-five appearances. His solitary Albion goal came against Sheffield Wednesday in October 2013. He returned to parent club Bolton following our Play Offs defeat to Derby, but with first team opportunities looking unlikely, Andrews joined Championship side Watford on loan towards the end of July. The Republic of Ireland midfielder earned thirty-five caps for his country, including all three matches at Euro 2012 before being sent off in the defeat to Italy. Despite this, he was named Ireland’s Player of the Year for 2012. The 2014/15 campaign would be his final one before retirement.

57MIL Andrews 57MIL Prutton

In the commentary box were Daniel Mann and Garry Birtles. Mann was firmly second choice in the Football League behind Bill Leslie, but with Leslie also covering some top flight Live action, Mann’s opportunities increased each season. He was Sky’s voice of 3D commentaries for the previous four years, but the project was quietly dropped by Sky now due to a lack of uptake. Garry Birtles had been involved in Sky’s League commentaries for over a decade, dating back to the opening day of the 2003/04 season. Whilst he had been overtaken by the likes of Don Goodman and Andy Hinchcliffe in recent seasons, Birtles still did a wide range of football including Premier League 3pm world feed matches, La Liga and international matches. He also was a regular in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and Leagues 1 & 2.

The final member of the on-air team for tonight’s clash was reporter David Craig. He was a long-standing part of Sky’s reporting roster, primarily for Sky Sports News. This expanded to Live match interviewing as of last season, reporting on Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and under-16 international Victory Shield games, as well as the second choice on the Football League.

 

THE COVERAGE

57MIL Ident 57MIL Sponsor

Friday nights were a regular slot for Live FL72 action, as well as Saturday 12.15pm to go head-to-head with BT Sport’s top flight lunchtime games. The programme began fifteen minutes prior to the 7.45pm kick-off, hosted from the stadium studio at The Amex towards the corner of the North Stand. Throughout the month of December, Sky Sports used special Christmas themed idents, as was now tradition for them. The famous animated snowmen of yesteryear were a distant memory, instead focussing now on snow-topped streets with the logo prominently place and commentary from a classic match over the top. Lights displayed the message “Merry Christmas”. After the Screwfix sponsor bumpers and the “Run Boy Run” title sequence, new for this season, the programme was underway.

Host Natalie Sawyer emphasised the contrast in fortunes for supporters of the Seagulls who, for the past two seasons, were more used to the battle at the top than avoiding the drop. Millwall, on the other hand, had appointed a manager more used to getting teams out of this Division but were desperately fighting just to stay in it this time. A glance at the League table showed the precarious positions for both, with Albion in the drop zone in twenty-second place and two points from safety. Millwall had twenty points from twenty games, sitting prettier in twentieth spot. “This time last season, Brighton were thirteen points better off and just outside of the top six,” Sawyer compared.

She was joined in the box by guests Keith Andrews and David Prutton. Andrews experienced the Albion during the previous campaign, reaching the Championship Play Offs. The current Watford man was asked what the downturn in form could be attributed to; “You can bring it back to a few seasons of turbulence off the pitch – managerial changes for the last three summers. There’s huge ambition at this football club and it is set up for success and long-term sustainability, but I just think it’s caught up with them a little bit.”

57MIL Bent 57MIL Split screen interview

The studio team picked out a couple of key players to watch out for, including Brighton’s newest striking option Darren Bent. Keith Andrews was expecting Bent to do well at the club, citing “wherever he’s been he has got goals”. David Prutton believed the Albion were “in essence a great team”, with decent possession stats and passing football. Due to the amount of loan signings, they were needing players who could gel quickly. As for Millwall, their key man was signed out of non-League; Lee Gregory from Halifax. The question of if he could make it in the Football League out of the National League was answered using examples that had gone on to better things; Andre Gray at Brentford and Jamie Vardy at Leicester, who also came from Halifax to move up. The pundits both expected the home side to be a threat and have enough to defeat Millwall tonight. With the previewing done, it was time for a quick ad break before the teams were in the tunnel and raring to go.

Just before kick-off, both managers were interviewed by reporter David Craig. Sami Hyypia was asked about the expectation of the job after such a poor start to his reign; “In my playing career, you play under pressure. I think pressure is good to be there.” Ian Holloway explained he made five changes to freshen the squad up after a humiliating defeat the previous week; one which Holloway described as his “worst day in football”. Then it was over the commentary team of Daniel Mann and Garry Birtles to talk us through the first half action, with ‘Sussex By the Sea’ ringing round as the teams walked onto the pitch.

57MIL Coming Up 57MIL Proposal

The half time analysis centred around the goal from Lee Gregory. Pundit David Prutton pointed out the number of players Millwall were getting forward was much greater than when Brighton attacked. When Gregory struck for the goal, there were an additional five yellow shirts in the penalty area. There was praise for Lewis Dunk from Keith Andrews, blocking shots and being “a real leader at the back”. The only success for Brighton probably came away from the game, as a half time proposal from one of the fans made it onto the Sky coverage. Natalie Sawyer name checked them as Kristina Sinclair and Jamie Howell, so congratulations to them. She did say “yes”, by the way.

Straight after the final whistle, reporter David Craig was on the pitch speaking with Man of the Match and Millwall captain, Danny Shittu, alongside goalscorer Lee Gregory. “That’s what this League’s all about. You’ve gotta fight!” said Shittu. After the adverts, around eight minutes or so of the programme were left to wrap things up. The stats presented a slightly different picture than what the scoreline did, with Brighton having more possession, attempts and shots on target. But the lack of bodies in the box and clear-cut chances cost the Albion. The studio team spoke over a montage of half-chances created, with Keith Andrews adding “they lack real clinicalness and ruthlessness. They did create some decent chances, but the confidence is clearly low.”

During his interview with David Craig, Millwall boss Ian Holloway echoed the point about confidence; “It’s all about believing and your performances are what you work for. The last one was awful but we’ve got massive character at this football club, let’s keep going.” Once again, there wasn’t time during the Live broadcast to hear from Sami Hyypia, with Natalie Sawyer directing us towards Sky Sports News for that later on. That is where the broadcast concluded, on a very bleak evening for the Albion. Change was needed. Change would arrive very shortly.

57MIL Stats

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

57MIL Kick Off 57MIL Comms

The visitors, in their change kit of all yellow, kicked off playing from right to left in the first half. Darren Bent was quickly showing what a good player he was, better than this level of football, with intelligent flick ons and lay offs. Unfortunately, a nice move down the left grounded to a halt when it was played back inside to Solly March, who opted for the wrong man in trying to loop it over the defence for Teixeira. Millwall enjoyed a couple of good moves of their own early on too, forcing the defence to work hard to clear the danger. Just before the quarter-hour mark, the Lions broke the deadlock to take a deserved lead through Lee Gregory. Brighton struggled to properly clear from Malone’s cross on the left. It eventually went to Gueye who shaped to shoot on the edge of the box. He got into a tangle and dragged it but it fell kindly into the path of Gregory. With his marker Dunk on his backside, space opened up for Gregory on the right of the six-yard line to just lift it over David Stockdale charging out and nestle into the corner (below left image). Millwall had their opener as the boos began to creep in at The Amex.

The atmosphere worsened as the game went on. Misplaced passes were booed, groans were very audible and patience was wearing thin. Brighton were shading the possession but there was nothing to show for it. Ten minutes after the goal, the Albion tested Millwall ‘keeper David Forde twice in quick succession. Jake Forster-Caskey hit a low drive from almost thirty yards to force Forde into palming away down to his left. The rebound saw Bruno’s cross along the ground couldn’t quite reach Darren Bent, as Forde again got there to deny Brighton. It was the first sign of any intent. Much of the Albion joy was coming from the left, with Teixeira key and Adam Chicksen supporting well. But finding Bent was proving difficult. Indeed, it was the Portuguese winger who made Forde produce another save, stopping his shot from the right this time. Real clear-cut chances were few and far between and at the break, it remained one-nil Millwall.

57MIL Goal 57MIL Sub

A chorus of booing greeted the half-time whistle, whilst a banner was unfurled suggesting Hyypia’s time was up. It also criticised the role of David Burke, the ‘head of football operations, who had been at the club for three years. He had been tasked with recruiting players and his results were, at best, mixed. Under both Hyypia and previous coach Oscar Garcia, high profile stars had been sold on but these were not adequately replaced, consequently making the squad worse. If Brighton had overachieved last season, the reality under Burke was hitting hard this time. Burke was dismissed from his role less than two weeks after this match. The booing continued into the second half, whenever the ball went out of play and Sami Hyypia touched it. Certain sections of the home support wanted their dissatisfaction to be heard. Loudly.

Having been warned about taking his time very early on, Millwall goalie David Forde was booked for timewasting ten minutes after the restart. But it was he who was keeping the Lions in the lead. Brighton’s best chance so far though, a couple of minutes later, required no action from Forde as Solly March blazed a brilliant opportunity high and wide. Adam Chicksen put in a terrific first time cross from the left. It found March unmarked twelve yards out, in line with the near post. He got his shot all wrong as he leant back and allowed it to cannon off his calf to sail over. The England under-21 international really should have done better with that. After sixty-five minutes, March was replaced by Adrian Colunga, back following suspension for his sending off in the defeat here to Fulham.

57MIL Banner

Millwall had very little by way of attack in the final third throughout the second half. They did muster a tame shot with twenty minutes remaining which should have been easy for Stockdale to gather. But, perhaps due to the lack of confidence around the team, he spilled it and had to be quick to gather the loose ball. Albion made a second change, bringing on, according to commentator Daniel Mann, “the maverick talents” of Paddy McCourt, replacing Elliott Bennett in midfield. Within minutes he almost assisted an equaliser. McCourt’s free kick was sent in dangerously towards the back stick. Gary Gardner got his head to it to float it towards the other post but Beevers was there for Millwall to clear in front of the goal line as Bent was waiting for the tap in. The possession was again edged by Brighton, much like in the first half, but that was not being converted to the scoreline. The chants of “We want Sami out!” were audible over the television pictures.

Five minutes were added on at the end of the ninety. A corner presented an opportunity for everyone, including goalie David Stockdale, to get in the box and apply the pressure. Teixeira’s kick woefully didn’t get above waste height and was cleared by the first man. A crossing chance for Adrian Colunga arrived a minute later, with five in blue and white waiting. The cross was too deep and alluded everyone. Frustrations were clear for all to see and hear. It petered out into a sorry, one-nil defeat. The final whistle blew, the boos rang louder than before. “More anguish at The Amex for Brighton”, said Daniel Mann.

57MIL Table

BRIGHTON 0 MILLWALL 1
Gregory

57MIL Replay.JPG

PREVIOUS; #56 BOURNEMOUTH 3-2 BRIGHTON 01/11/2014

NEXT; #58 BRIGHTON 2-3 ARSENAL 25/01/2015

#56: Bournemouth 3-2 Brighton 01/11/2014

#56 BOURNEMOUTH 3-2 BRIGHTON Championship
Saturday 1st November 2014 Image result for

56BOU Titles

PRESENTER Natalie Sawyer GUEST Darren Anderton
COMMENTATORS Gary Weaver & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
5.15pm Kick Off; Goldsands Stadium, Bournemouth     5-7.30pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1

56BOU Ident 56BOU Sponsor 56BOU Intro

CONTEXT OF THE MATCH

It was all change at the Albion following the Play Off Semi Final defeat at Derby in May. Coach Oscar Garcia offered his resignation the same night, citing a lack of financial investment in both his transfer windows the key frustration, as well as offloading key started in Ashley Barnes and Liam Bridcutt in January. His dissatisfaction had been clear for a while. The club found itself in exactly the same situation for the second summer in a row.

On 6th June, former Liverpool and Finland defender Sami Hyypia was the surprise appointment as manager of the Albion on a three-year deal. He spent a decade in the Premier League at Anfield, where he made his name at the heart of the defence that won two FA Cups, two League Cups, the UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and, of course, the Champions League in 2005. After Liverpool, he spent the final two years of his playing career with Bayer Leverkusen before retiring in 2011. He immediately moved into coaching, first as Finland’s assistant before returning to Leverkusen initially as caretaker. By May 2012 he was in charge of the first team along with Sascha Lewandowski and finished their first full campaign third in the Bundesliga, qualifying for the Champions League. He took sole charge for the 2013/14 season but was sacked in April after a slightly less successful year.

Upon his appointment at Brighton, Hyypia was all set to bring in former Liverpool and England assistant Sammy Lee as his number two. But, after agreeing to join, Lee u-turned at the last minute to join Southampton instead. Former Albion winger Nathan Jones was promoted from within, rising to first team coach from assistant head coach. Hyypia’s appointment was initially met with optimism.  He followed in similar paths to Poyet and Garcia, whereby he was a terrific player who achieved a lot in his career but was young and new to management in this country.

However, initial results certainly did not go well both on and off the field. Star striker Leo Ulloa couldn’t resist the Premier League lure, joining Leicester for £8million, whilst Will Buckley linked up with former boss Poyet at Sunderland. Spanish contingent Andrea Orlandi and David Lopez were released and Matt Upson joined Leicester for one final go at the top flight. On the field, back-to-back defeats kicked off the new season, at home to Sheffield Wednesday and away to Birmingham, without scoring a goal. Some respite came next with two wins, away at Leeds and against Bolton at The Amex.

But ahead of today’s clash with Bournemouth, victories seemed a world away as the club were on a ten game winless streak stretching back to August. Seven draws suggested a lack of clinical edge in finishing teams off and the Seagulls were sat precariously in twenty-first, just a place above the drop zone almost a third of the way into the new season. What a contrast to the previous two years; where the Premier League was in sight, now all of a sudden League One was a more realistic prospect.

Bournemouth, by contrast, were enjoying a tremendous start to the season, building on an impressive tenth place finish back in the Championship last season. Boss Eddie Howe was named October’s Manager of the Month, whilst striker Callum Wilson won the Player’s award. A one-hundred-percent record last month included an eight-nil demolition of Birmingham at St Andrew’s to catapult them into the Play Off places. Sky Sports cameras were present to see the latest battle between two South Coast teams, Live on a Saturday teatime.

 

THE TEAMS

56BOU Brighton

Just two players who started the last televised match back in May also began here; Dunk and Greer in an otherwise new-look Brighton. After departing manager Oscar Garcia’s complaint of a lack of transfer funds, incoming boss Sami Hyypia didn’t enjoy much shrift from the board over the summer either. A plethora of players were brought in before the window shut, but six were free transfers with a further three on loan. Money was spent, although undisclosed amounts, on goalkeeper David Stockdale and striker Chris O’Grady but both were absent from the squad here due to injury. In fact, there was somewhat of a goalkeeping crisis.

Last season’s ‘keepers Tomasz Kuszczak and Peter Brezovan were released over the summer, and with Stockdale out, this left only teenage rookie Christian Walton. He made his debut during the midweek two-nil defeat in the League Cup Fourth Round at Tottenham, a game in which he performed well, but it would have been unfair to rely on him during a turbulent time in the League campaign. Former Bolton and Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi was signed yesterday on an emergency loan and went straight into the starting XI for his solitary appearance.

In front of him was a new look back line, as left-back Joe Bennett joined on a season-long loan from Aston Villa and experienced Northern Irishman Aaron Hughes came in from QPR. They slotted in alongside captain Gordon Greer whilst academy graduate Lewis Dunk became a regular starter after two seasons as a bit-part player. Another Villa loanee, Gary Gardner, sat in midfield next to summer freebie Danny Holla, transferred in from his native Netherlands.

Hyypia called in a favour from his old side, as Liverpool loaned Portuguese attacking midfielder Joao Teixeira to gain first team football for the year. Two summer signings started up top; Sam Baldock moving from Bristol City and Adrian Colunga flying in from Spain’s Getafe. The bench was probably more familiar to fans from last season than the starters, with Craig Mackail-Smith, Kazenga LuaLua and Inigo Calderon providing an option.

56BOU Bournemouth 56BOU Subs

Eddie Howe named Championship Player of the Month Callum Wilson up top. Wilson joined after five years at Coventry for around £3million in July. He netted twice on the opening day win at Huddersfield, with Marc Pugh and Yann Kermorgant also on the scoresheet. Pugh started for our match whilst Kermorgant sat on the bench. Midfielder Andrew Surman moved from Norwich ahead of the season, whilst goalkeeper Artur Boruc was on a season’s loan from Southampton.

There was a distinctly Brighton flavour in the centre of defence; Tommy Elphick spent seven seasons at the Albion after graduating from the youth setup and joined Bournemouth in 2012 following injury forcing him low down the pecking order. Steve Cook made his Seagulls debut in the League Cup penalty shoot-out defeat of Manchester City in 2008 as a seventeen-year-old but only made a handful of appearances in the subsequent three years. He joined Bournemouth initially on loan in October 2011 before making it permanent three months later. Elsewhere, Matt Ritchie was impressing for the Cherries on the wing whilst fellow Scotsman Ryan Fraser was part of the team that gained promotion from League One in 2013. Refereeing tonight’s big match was little Keith Stroud.

 

PRESENTATION TEAM

56BOU Sawyer 56BOU Anderton

This evening’s coverage was hosted by Natalie Sawyer from the Goldsands Stadium, better known as Dean Court. Sawyer started out in production as Sky Sports in 2000, as a runner and graphics operator for Sky Sports News, before progressing on-screen to host on the channel. She became one of the faces of Sky’s coverage of Transfer Deadline Day alongside Jim White and all that yellow. As of the 2013/14 campaign, Sawyer began hosting Live League One and Two matches and became the secondary Football League presenter this season, behind Simon Thomas, combining this with her stints on Sky Sports News. Joining her in the studio was former England midfielder Darren Anderton. As well as thirty international caps and a World Cup finals goal, the majority of Anderton’s career was spent at Tottenham where he featured in the first dozen years of the Premiership. He started and ended his career playing for a team in the Meridian region, beginning at Portsmouth in 1990 before finishing at Bournemouth after three seasons in the Football League in 2008/09. He, perhaps unfairly, earned the nickname ‘sicknote’ for his apparent frequent injuries, though the records show he only ever made fewer than twenty appearances in a season on three occasions; coming in the mid-90s at Spurs. He represented England at both Euro ’96 and World Cup ’98 and since retirement worked as a studio pundit covering Euro 2012 for Canadian broadcaster TSN.

56BOU Studio

In the commentary box were Gary Weaver and Don Goodman. Weaver became more of a prominent voice on Sky’s Football League coverage from this season, having done just a handful of Live matches in the previous couple of years. One of these was Albion’s League One game during the promotion season away at Colchester, where a comical own goal took a little bit of gloss off the title. He was now essentially FL72 third choice, behind Bill Leslie and Daniel Mann. But with Leslie getting more Premier League opportunities, and 3D commentaries all but disappeared because Sky pulled the plug on this football project, the Football League provided Mann and Weaver increased Live match exposure. Co-commentator Don Goodman was one of Sky’s most experienced League analysts, having done the role since 2007. He tended to get the biggest Championship game of the weekend, with the likes of Andy Hinchcliffe and Garry Birtles picking up the rest. Completing the line-up was touchline reporter Jonathan Oakes. He was Sky’s main FL72 interviewer, having taken over from Patrick Davison two seasons ago. Oakes previously reported for Sky Sports News and the magazine programming.

 

THE COVERAGE

56BOU Hyypia arriving 56BOU Results

Sky Sports introduced a new set of idents for the 2014/15 season, with even more dramatic music than before! The theme was based around putting Sky Sports into the picture, as the logo was part masked by the slow-mo action. The Football League coverage was again sponsored by Screwfix for this season, and still going under the branding of ‘FL72’ for the seventy-two clubs in the three Divisions. We did get brand new titles for this year, soundtracked by Woodkid’s track Run Boy Run. The music had previously been used on Eurosport’s coverage of the 2012 London Olympics and more recently for the excellent closing montage to the BBC’s World Cup 2014 Final. The new sequence featured red and white rectangular panels flying around from all over the country towards a generic stadium where they’d build the FL72 logo. These red panels had clips of goals and celebrations on, whilst some of the white panels had club badges. It reached a crescendo in the revealing of the FL72 logo next to a giant Championship trophy, with either the word ‘Live’ or ‘Review’ underneath depending on if it was a match or magazine show.

Host Natalie Sawyer’s introduction VT focussed around Bournemouth, unsurprising given their excellent start and record win the previous week, playing on the ‘Bourne’ trilogy of films to end with ‘The Bournemouth Supremacy/Identity/Legacy’. There was a mention of the Albion’s struggles this season despite a Play Off place six months earlier. Sami Hyypia’s reign hadn’t begun well and Brighton were without a League win since the first month.

56BOU Form guide 56BOU Baldock

Coverage began fifteen minutes before the 5.15pm kick off, hosted by Sawyer with her guest Darren Anderton from a box in the corner of the stadium. With this being the late game, a rarity for Sky’s Football League during the current rights cycle as the regular slot was 12.15pm on Saturdays, the rest of the day’s results were known before kick-off. Brighton hadn’t moved from their precarious twenty-first placed spot, whilst Bournemouth had been bumped down to seventh but a win would see them into the top two on goal difference. The graphics were as last season, with one tiny tweak being the introduction of a red card on the scoreboard if a player got sent off; as first used in this country by ESPN five years earlier.

In the limited amount of pre-match time before the adverts, the studio pairing picked out a couple of key players; Callum Wilson for the Cherries with his nine goals from fourteen League games, and summer transfer Sam Baldock, yet to get off the mark for the Albion. The form guide comparison showed the huge contrast in recent weeks between the two sides.

56BOU Hyypia split screen 56BOU Analysis

After the ad break and with the teams waiting in the tunnel, reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with both managers. Eddie Howe was in confident mood but was “under no illusions, Brighton are a very good team so we have to be at our best.” Sami Hyypia acknowledged his Brighton side were lacking in the final third, not turning chances to goals and needed immediate improvement on that. With everyone set, it was time for our commentators, Gary Weaver and Don Goodman, to take over for the match.

At half time, pundit Darren Anderton had some encouraging words to say about the Albion’s performance despite being behind. “They’ve actually looked to play very well, Brighton, even from the first minute. They’ve made the pitch big, passed the ball around really well, if anything they’re just not ruthless enough.” Upon reviewing the first half goals, Anderton had sympathy for Greer’s own goal to give Bournemouth the lead; there wasn’t much he could do about that due to the fantastic ball in. For Colunga’s equaliser, he praised the Brighton play as being “absolutely fantastic”, and Pugh restoring the home lead with “great technique.” But for the second half, he implored the Seagulls to continue how they’d been playing.

56BOU Elphick 56BOU Coming Up

Just before the adverts after the final whistle, reporter Jonathan Oakes got immediate reaction from ex-Albion and current Bournemouth captain Tommy Elphick, alongside the Man of the Match Simon Francis. Back in the studio, host Natalie Sawyer pointed out this was Bournemouth’s first win in front of the Sky cameras since 2003. And you thought our Live record wasn’t great! She and Anderton reviewed the five goals from the game during the closing seven or eight minutes of the programme. For the second Albion equaliser, Anderton gave Baldock credit for “a great first touch and then he just kept his head down, drilled it with his left foot, with the laces, giving the ‘keeper no chance. Great finish.”

For the winning goal, he agreed with the referee’s decision to award the penalty, whilst there was no chance of saving the spot kick when it was hit with such pace and accuracy. Jonathan Oakes spoke with the Bournemouth boss but no time to hear from Sami Hyypia before the programme came off-air at 7.30pm. Eddie Howe was disappointed with the performance and lack of control on the game but gave credit to Brighton for forcing that to be the case. Plaudits were all well and good, but it was wins that were needed if we were to avoid sleepwalking into League One.

 

STORY OF THE MATCH

56BOU Kick Off 56BOU Comms

A minute’s silence preceded the match, as with all fixtures across the weekend, for Remembrance. The home team got the game underway, kicking from right to left in the first half; both clubs wearing their traditional home kits. Brighton started on the front foot, dominating the ball and winning a dangerous free-kick position on the edge of the box. Gary Gardner’s low fizz took a touch of Elphick and nearly in the back of the net, flying just wide. Right-back Aaron Hughes dealt a blow to Brighton’s plans when he jumped, landed and twisted his ankle badly enough to force him off injured after just ten minutes and stretchered out of the ground; the current longest serving player, Inigo Calderon, took his place. It took Bournemouth a quarter of an hour to work a chance, with Ali Al-Habsi forced into a low save to keep Ritchie’s close range effort out well.

Bournemouth grew in confidence and nine minutes later had the lead. Co-commentator Don Goodman stated, “This is the first real concerted pressure that Brighton have come under here this evening. Got to stand firm.” As soon as he’d finished his sentence, Simon Francis delivered a fantastic cross from the right to bounce in between the Albion centre backs. Gordon Greer, six yards out aware of an attacker right behind him, couldn’t afford to allow the ball to go any further and tried to nod it behind for a corner. Unfortunately, it ended up flying into the corner of the net for an own goal.

56BOU Own Goal 56BOU Colunga goal

If things were looking down for Brighton, they didn’t show it as three minutes later they scored an equaliser. A defence-splitting through ball from the outside of Joao Teixeira’s right foot put Adrian Colunga in the clear. He latched onto the ball well, took a touch to the side of the onrushing Artur Boruc in goal and calmly slotted into the open goal to make it one-one. It was a terrific run from the striker and superb forward play to finish it off for his first Brighton League goal.

The game continued pretty evenly until the third goal eight minutes before the break. Marc Pugh would be credited with it, but they got a slice of luck through a deflection on the way in. A corner into a crowded box swirled up into the air. Brighton couldn’t clear the second ball either, with it bouncing to an unmarked Pugh fifteen yards out. He adjusted his body to side-volley the dropping ball very well. Lewis Dunk’s despairing lunge gave the ball further momentum as it slipped through the legs of Gary Gardner, past Al-Habsi and in.

56BOU Baldock goal 56BOU Penalty

Into the second half, Brighton again started well. Lewis Dunk went close to nabbing an equaliser when his header from a corner had to be saved very well down low to his right by Boruc. Dunk had four goals to his name this season already, proving what a threat he was from set pieces as Albion’s top scorer. At the hour mark, Brighton did score a second as Sam Baldock became the second player of the match to score his first League goal for the club. For a team that enjoyed playing the ball around, this was a much more direct approach. The ball was launched back in to the Bournemouth half by goalkeeper Al-Habsi. Gordon Greer flicked on and Baldock was all of a sudden bearing down on goal. The defensive offside trap did not work. Baldock’s first touch controlled a difficult, bobbling ball whilst his second with the left just drove it low and hard past Boruc for a terrific finish. A second leveller for the Seagulls sent the already buoyant travelling support, making terrific noise throughout, even more vocal as we entered the final third of the match.

A change saw LuaLua come on for Colunga, whilst Bournemouth brought on Yann Kermorgant and Ryan Fraser; both teams could smell a victory. LuaLua’s first action almost brought about a goal but certainly caused panic at the back. Having almost been clattered into through a clumsy fall from the defender, LuaLua fired the ball across the face of the goal which somehow managed to pass every player by. It ended up at the feet of Gary Gardner on the far side who blazed it high and wide. The arrival of Kermorgant improved Bournemouth’s attacking play, with everything going through the former Charlton and Leicester man. Hyypia’s attempt to wrestle back control saw Craig Mackail-Smith brought on for Sam Baldock.

But with a quarter of an hour left, Bournemouth were given the chance to take all three points when Lewis Dunk brought down Callum Wilson for a penalty kick. Dunk’s reaction showed he knew immediately that he did wrong, holding his head in his hands as Wilson went to ground. The tackle from behind got none of the ball and plenty of the man, unnecessarily sliding in when Wilson was only going towards the byline. Up stepped Yann Kermorgant who made no mistake to give Bournemouth the lead for a third time this evening, sending Al-Habsi the other way, finding the opposite corner for a great spot kick. No repeat of his dreadful chipped penalty miss for Leicester in the 2010 Play Offs to cost his side the shoot-out. Bournemouth stood firm in the closing stages and held on to the victory this time, the final score three-two. Albion’s winless run continued whilst the Cherries went from strength to strength.

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BOURNEMOUTH 3 BRIGHTON 2
Greer (own goal), Pugh, Kermorgant Colunga, Baldock

56BOU Replay 56BOU Goal

PREVIOUS; #55 DERBY 4-1 BRIGHTON 11/05/2014

NEXT; #57 BRIGHTON 0-1 MILLWALL 12/12/2014

#7: Brighton Women 0-4 Arsenal Women 12/01/2020

#7 BRIGHTON WOMEN 0-4 ARSENAL WOMEN Women’s Super League
Sunday 12th January 2020 LIVE via Red Button

ARSW Intro

COMMENTATOR Vicki Sparks CO-COMMENTATOR Gemma Fay
REPORTER Patrick Austen-Hardy HALF TIME Eilidh Barbour & Jayne Ludlow
12.30pm Kick Off; People’s Pension Stadium, Crawley     12.20-2.30pm Live on BBC Red Button

ARSW Table ARSW Arrivals ARSW Arsenal arrivals

Context of the Match: Since Brighton’s last Live televised appearance, the five-nil loss at high-flying Manchester City in December, just one match had been played since the Christmas break. Last week, Brighton secured their second Women’s Super League victory of the season in an absolutely crucial game with Liverpool. Midfielder Aileen Whelan nabbed the solitary goal as Albion ran out one-nil winners, turning the ball home from close range following Lea Le Garrec’s cushioned header back. The victory put Brighton on nine points from ten games into ninth place but, more importantly, created a six-point gap between them and bottom of the table Liverpool. With only one team relegated again this season, this was a big opening as we entered the second half of the campaign today against table-topping Arsenal. The Gunners led the way, and would go back to being three points clear of Manchester City with a win today, as City played a day earlier to level things up in terms of points, goal difference and goals scored! Brighton did record a victory, of sorts, over Arsenal back in November in the Continental Cup group stages. After drawing nil-nil, to decide the match winner and a bonus point, the format of the competition meant a penalty shoot-out followed. Albion’s Kirsty Barton stepped up first but fired wide. Goalkeeper Sophie Harris kept it level when saving Arsenal’s first penalty from Kim Little. Kayleigh Green then converted to give Albion the lead in the shoot-out. Kirsty McCabe equalised before Maya Le Tissier restored the Brighton advantage. England striker Beth Mead blazed her kick over the bar and Dani Bowman converted to extend the Brighton lead to three-one. Danielle van de Donk squeezed the ball into the corner to pull one back but Lea Le Garrec scored the fifth and final penalty to secure the bonus point for Brighton, winning the shoot-out four-two. Brighton enjoyed more success in this competition than they had enjoyed so far in the WSL. A three-nil victory at Charlton kicked off the competition, with two goals from Kayleigh Green and one from Ini Umotong. A defeat at home to Bristol City hampered progress but after the Arsenal shoot-out win, the group concluded with back to back wins in the capital ensured progress to the knockout rounds where they were handed a difficult trip to Manchester United. Those two victories were high scoring ones; beating London Bees five-nil with five different scorers. Amanda Nilden, Victoria Williams, Emily Simpkins, Ini Umotong and Kate Natkiel all got in on the act. The final group game was a four-two win at London City Lionesses, where Matilde Lundorf, Umotong again, Emily Simpkins and an own goal secured progress. Looking ahead, the Women’s FA Cup draw had been made during the week. Brighton were handed a trip to Aston Villa for their Fourth Round last-32 tie. Villa were unbeaten and top of the second-tier Championship and a chance to test themselves against another in-form side. The WSL though was a whole different prospect but the Seagulls could go into today’s televised clash with Champions Arsenal with a bit more belief than before. The BBC cameras were present in Crawley to showcase the Albion Women Live on the Red Button.

ARSW Brighton ARSW Arsenal

The Teams: Hope Powell handed new deals to two of Albion’s women this week; goalkeeper Megan Walsh and midfielder Maya Le Tissier, her first professional contract. Whilst the former started here, the latter missed out. Walsh’s place was perhaps under threat after the club signed Norway international ‘keeper Cecille Fiskerstrand, with three now competing for the starting place. Defender Fliss Gibbons was an automatic starter. Returning to the starting XI as one of two changes was Victoria Williams. Prior to joining the Albion in 2018, Williams played for the Great Britain university football team win a gold medal in the 2013 Summer Universiade in Russia. Brighton’s longest serving player, Kirsty Barton, returned to the starting XI. Barton joined from Chelsea in 2011, making over 150 appearances for the Seagulls on the rise from the third tier to the top. Midfielder Emily Simpkins was featuring in her second season at the club, having joined from the now defunct Doncaster Rovers Belles and becoming their first player to be given a professional contract back in 2015. The other change from the Liverpool victory saw twenty-one-year-old Amanda Nilden come in for Kate Natkiel. Nilden represented Sweden at under 17, U19 and U23 level. Whilst Lea Le Garrec worked her way up the French youth levels, including winning the under-19 European Championships in 2010, before earning a senior international cap seven years later. Welsh striker Kayleigh Green’s two goals and one assist have been invaluable in Albion’s few wins this campaign. Before Brighton, Green played in the UEFA Women’s Champions League for Cardiff and played for Italian Serie B side Chieti. Goalscoring prowess on the bench included the only woman to score in a Live televised Brighton match, Ini Umotong, as well as Irish striker Megan Connolly and Kate Natkiel, who began her career in the Arsenal under-10s before progressing through the age groups.

Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro opted for a three-four-three formation. Their star player is the sensational striker Vivianne Miedema, who has fourteen goals and eight assists to her name in the WSL this campaign thus far. Centre-back and captain Leah Williamson came up through Arsenal’s youth ranks and represented England at under-15, U17, U19, U20 and U23 level before making her senior debut in the World Cup 2019 qualifier in Russia back in 2018. Her first goal for her country came last November, a late winner in a three-two result against the Czech Republic. Alongside her in defence for Arsenal was Republic of Ireland international Louise Quinn, who joined in 2017 and signed a new contract ahead of this season. Manuela Zinsberger returned to the first team in goal. In midfield, Jordan Nobbs, Kim Little and Danielle van de Donk all netted in the reverse fixture in September as Arsenal ran out four-nil winners against the Albion for the third League match in succession. The trio all started again here. Dutch international Jill Roord joined in May ahead of the Women’s World Cup, where she scored the only goal in the Netherlands win over New Zealand. Switzerland’s Lia Walti completed the quintet across the middle. Amongst the options on the sidelines were England striker Beth Mead, who scored the goal of the season when the sides last met in Sussex in the WSL back in April, and German defender Leonie Maier who joined for this season. The referee in charge was Kirsty Dowle.

ARSW Kick Off ARSW Comms ARSW Barbour and Ludlow

Presentation Team: Vicki Sparks led the BBC Red Button commentary, voicing her third Albion Women’s match Live and the second time it’s been against Arsenal. She combined her WSL schedule with reports for Final Score and Premier League and FA Cup commentaries for Match of the Day. Alongside her in Crawley was the former Scotland goalkeeper Gemma Fay. She retired in 2017 having been capped by Scotland a phenomenal two-hundred-and-three times over nineteen years, a record high for any British footballer. Fay captained the National side from 2009 and was earmarked for a place in Team GB’s 2012 Olympic squad, missing out behind Karen Bardsley and Rachel Brown-Finnis. She did make it to the 2017 European Championships in the Netherlands. Fay’s club career began in her native Scotland with St Johnstone, Aberdeen and Ayr before moving down to England. At the age of twenty-one, she joined Brighton Women for the 2002/03 season before returning North to Hibernian. Seven years were spent at Celtic Ladies, during which time she also turned her hand to acting for the lead role in one-off Sky drama Rubenesque. Since retirement she expanded on her media appearances, travelling to France for the Women’s World Cup coverage with the BBC in 2019 where she was a key member of the punditry team providing a Scottish angle. Reporting on the touchline was Patrick Austen-Hardy. A new name to this website and to televised sports broadcasting, Austen-Hardy was employed by production company Whisper for today’s match and others over the previous eighteen months, as it’s Whisper who dispatch the WSL Live match reporters. His previous work showcases a lot of written articles for a variety of online publications such as La Liga News and Ronnie Dog Media. As of this season he worked as Swindon Town’s media assistant and contributed to Southampton Solent University’s website, where he was completing his education. Present at pitchside in situ for The Women’s Football Show later in the evening were host Eilidh Barbour and pundit Jayne Ludlow. The pair also contributed to the half-time discussion. Barbour was one of the regular rotating hosts of the show and combined that with other BBC Sport work across football and golf, and was Sky’s Scottish football presenter this year, maternity cover for Hayley McQueen. Jayne Ludlow was a regular contributor to the BBC’s WSL coverage, both as a guest or co-commentating. The Wales manager previously called Brighton’s Live WSL clash at Arsenal, the reverse of today’s fixture back in September.

ARSW Fixtures ARSW Powell ARSW One to Watch ARSW One to Watch Arsenal

The Coverage: The second weekend of the new decade saw the second round of the Women’s Super League take place after the pause for the Christmas period. Ten minutes before the scheduled 12.30pm kick off, the BBC Red Button coverage came on-air. Commentator Vicki Sparks handled proceedings out-of-vision. She introduced the day’s fixtures with the featured match being in Crawley as the Champions came to town. One match had already taken place the day before, Live on BT Sport, as challengers Manchester City kept up the pace with Arsenal by defeating Everton by three goals to one. Elsewhere, a waterlogged pitch put pay to Liverpool versus Manchester United but still going ahead after the Albion’s match would be a London derby between Tottenham and West Ham, Reading faced Birmingham whilst the other hopefuls in the title race, Chelsea, hosted Bristol City. A look at the table saw how close things were at the top of the table, with Arsenal only top because of alphabetical order over Manchester City – with everything else level but Arsenal had played a game less. Shots of the two teams arriving into the People’s Pension Stadium in Sussex followed, getting off the team bus and into the reception area. We heard from both bosses ahead of kick off, speaking with our reporter Patrick Austen-Hardy. Brighton manager Hope Powell said the result from the previous Cup match against Arsenal would give confidence despite it being just a memory now; “It was a long time ago but we have to take heart from that. Obviously a really good performance from us, more importantly to win the game – albeit on penalties.” Arsenal’s Joe Montemurro spent a couple of weeks away from the squad to return to his native Australia last month but was back ready to take the team again as the season hotted up. With the news that Manchester City were losing their coach Nick Cushing to America next month, it was important to keep focus on the task ahead. “Every game’s got its own particular situation,” he said, “we don’t really look at what other teams are doing, we look at how we can improve and how we can be the best we can be.” Sparks introduced us to former Albion goalkeeper and Scotland’s record appearance holder, co-commentator Gemma Fay. They pair focussed on a couple of players to watch out for, starting with the current Brighton goalie Megan Walsh who was celebrating a contract extension this week. Fay said of Walsh, “She’s started, I think, all but one game and as a goalkeeper to be midway through a season, having just arrived at a club and to be offered that contract extension must give her great confidence.” Unsurprisingly the Arsenal one to watch was of course the WSL’s record scorer Vivianne Miedema. And with that, the teams were ready in the tunnel for kick off.

ARSW Half Time 1 ARSW Half Time 2 ARSW Half Time 3 ARSW Half Time 4

As usual with these broadcasts, the half time break is the most feature filled. The interval began with the commentary team looking back at the goals and key chances from the first half, in which Arsenal led by two goals to nil. Co-commentator Gemma Fay focussed on praising the attacking play for the goal, calling the first “a delightful finish”, but more critical of Brighton’s left side for the second as Williamson had time and space to pick a pass, likewise van de Donk for the shot. Next, we saw highlights from the only WSL game played on Saturday, as Manchester City defeated Everton. The game was Live on BT Sport and their commentary team of Adam Summerton and Lucy Ward voiced the best bits at the Academy Stadium. A regular half time feature this season on the BBC coverage has been the ‘Getting to Know’ segment, where each club had a player interviewed by twins Rosie and Molly Kmita. The chat took place on a golf buggy, for some reason, but allowed for a more casual environment. This time, West Ham’s Adriana Leon was the player involved. The Canadian international joined the Hammers a year ago. Supporting her fellow countryman, Leon revealed she was a fan of Justin Bieber. Shame. The final part of the half time break saw us head down pitchside to link up with the team fronting the evening’s highlights on The Women’s Football Show; Eilidh Barbour and Jayne Ludlow. Speaking from a tactical perspective, the former Arsenal woman noticed two key points; the use of Leah Williamson on the right almost acting as a right-winger at times, and the early switching of the play over to the left to utilise Danielle van de Donk. She emphasised the collectiveness this Arsenal group have; “There’s a team ethic that runs through this team whether they’ve got the ball or whether they haven’t got the ball, they work extremely hard for each other.” They also picked up on the slightly bobbly conditions of the Crawley pitch, with big soil divots dotted around the surface. After the match there was just enough time for Eilidh Barbour to grab a quick word with Gemma Fay’s Player of the Match; Leah Williamson. The Arsenal and England defender was involved in assisting the goals and put in a terrific shift. With a further reminder pushing us towards the magazine show later on in the evening, it was time for Vicki Sparks to wrap the broadcast up as, once again, Arsenal defeated the Albion on the telly.

ARSW Teams ARSW Opening goal ARSW Second goal

Story of the Match: Brighton’s Lea Le Garrec got the game underway, with the Seagulls kicking from left to right in the first half in the familiar stripes of blue and white. Arsenal wore their change kit of yellow shirts and socks with blue shorts. Brighton would have been aware of Arsenal’s ability to fly out of the blocks and score early, having inflicted that on the Albion in previous meetings. So, it was a disappointing start to the game when the deadlock was broken just three minutes in. Having just tried a crossfield ball from right to left in a bid to set van de Donk free moments earlier by Jordan Nobbs, this time Leah Williamson measured the skill to perfection. Her pass from effectively the right centre-back position sailed over the head of Albion full-back Kirsty Barton to set van de Donk in behind. She took three touches to drive into the box and showed terrific strength to outmuscle Barton as she attempted to track back. As she approached the six-yard line, the Dutch midfielder stroked the ball past Megan Walsh’s near post to strike an early blow. The finish described as “cool” by commentator Vicki Sparks, whilst summariser Gemma Fay believed Brighton allowed it to be a bit too easy for Arsenal. Williamson was enjoying a lot of freedom down the right-hand side, charging up and down the touchline for both defensive and attacking duties. The next chance came as a result of another marauding run from the English defender. Her pass down the line allowed Lisa Evans to get forward to cross into the danger area. Jordan Nobbs completely missed her kick but the ball fell to Jill Roord behind her just inside the box. She took a touch to steady it before trying to curl round the defence. Dani Kerkdijk’s foot deflected the shot up and Walsh had to scramble around on the line to collect under pressure from Miedema. After the half hour mark it was to be two-nil, this time Roord wasn’t to be denied. Again, it was Williamson who provided the assist, receiving the ball out wide and delivering the perfect pass between the two central defenders and into the area where Roord found space. Her finish gave Walsh no chance, just guiding the ball into the other corner of the net as it bounced up nicely for the hit. The Albion defence weren’t close enough to her and paid the price. Arsenal’s quick play and switching from one flank to the other caused all sorts of problems for Brighton, almost resulting in a third from Nobbs, instead landing just the other side of the post. However, there was one decent opportunity for the home side which arrived as we approached the break. Aileen Whelan played a fantastic through ball to cut out three Arsenal defenders and find Emily Simpkins. Her first touch just took it a little wide and struggled to get the ball out of her feet. As a result, she had to take the shot a little off balance and with the covering defender now back in position the effort ended up wide of the target. Just a one-off or something of a warning sign that the Seagulls weren’t out of it just yet? The first half drew to a close with the scoreline at nil-two.

ARSW Third Goal ARSW Fourth goal ARSW Player of the Match

Into the second half, it didn’t take Arsenal long to extend that lead further after some very neat interchanges over on the far side. Just six minutes in, Jordan Nobbs netted to make it three-nil. Leah Williamson spread the play from the centre to the left where it soon found Danielle van de Donk. Her low ball into the mixer was expertly dummied by Miedema to allow Nobbs to run onto it. She only needed a touch with the right then a shot with the left to slot the ball home and seal the three points. Gemma Fay on commentary was wowed by the passing play from the Gunners in the build-up. With this the first of three games for the visitors in around a week, substitutions were made to keep the legs fresh. England’s Beth Mead was brought on for Kim Little and the striker didn’t waste her opportunity when it was presented. Lia Walti’s ball forward seemed neither a cross nor shot and should have been a routine take for goalkeeper Megan Walsh. However, the bounce just in front of her made it that little bit more difficult and she spilled the ball at the feet of another substitute, Leonie Maier. In a desperate attempt to regain the ball, Walsh dived out and brought Maier down, who was first to the loose ball. If it hadn’t fallen to an Arsenal woman, referee Kirsty Dowle would have pointed to the spot. Alas, there was no need as Beth Mead firmly struck the ball into the open net to round things off in the final minute. The three previous meetings in the Women’s Super League had all finished four-nil to Arsenal. An unusually goal quiet Vivianne Miedema tried to break that sequence to add a fifth in stoppage time but her lob over the onrushing Walsh from the edge of the box landed just over. So, it was to be a fourth successive four-nil League victory for the Champions. Brighton disappointingly didn’t muster a shot on target in the ninety minutes and lacked the pace and level of quality that Arsenal brought to the game from the off. They restored their three-point cushion at the top of the table, whilst Brighton knew their biggest result was actually the week before by widening the gap between themselves and the foot of the table to six points. It wouldn’t be a comfortable end to the season just yet, but the hard yards would be fought against the teams around them rather than the elite few such as today’s opposition.

ARSW Full Time.JPG

BRIGHTON WOMEN 0 ARSENAL WOMEN 4
van de Donk, Roord, Nobbs, Mead

ARSW Replay

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#6: Manchester City Women 5-0 Brighton Women 15/12/2019

#6 MAN CITY WOMEN 5-0 BRIGHTON WOMEN Women’s Super League
Sunday 15th December 2019 LIVE via Red Button

MCW Intro

COMMENTATOR Vicki Sparks CO-COMMENTATOR Faye White
REPORTER Kelly Somers
12.30pm Kick Off; Academy Stadium, Manchester     12.20-2.30pm Live on BBC Red Button

MCW Fixtures  MCW Table

Context of the Match: The Women’s Super League broadcasters, BBC and BT Sport, did not like to pick matches where Brighton would be in with a shout of three points! Today was the Albion’s sixth Live match to be shown on television, with three of the previous five coming against Champions Arsenal and the latest showing was away at FA Cup holders Manchester City. Formed in 1988 as Manchester City Ladies, they spent the first ten years bumping around the North West Regional Football Leagues and then the subsequent years towards the bottom of Women’s Premier League. They didn’t gain prominence until the big shake up of English women’s football and the formation of the WSL. City missed out on a place initially in 2010 but applied again three years later, this time successfully, when the FA expanded the League into two tiers comprising a total of eighteen clubs. That was the point that Manchester City Women as we know it today really began, with a place in the top tier of the WSL for the start of 2014. A complete reform of the playing squad saw a number of England internationals flock, most notably goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, midfielder Jill Scott and captain Steph Houghton join new manager Nick Cushing. In the years since, they’ve won the League, two FA Cups and three League Cups as well as competing in Europe to become one of English women’s football’s most successful sides. Ahead of today’s game they sat in third, three points off the top. Whilst City were claiming trophies, Brighton were building to reach the point where they were here; playing as a fully professional club against the likes of City, Arsenal and Chelsea. The Albion Women’s last televised match came at the home of the Champions back in September, losing by four goals to nil. Since that afternoon, there were back to back League defeats to West Ham and Everton in a dreadful October. November began more brightly, particularly in the Continental Cup with a shoot-out victory over Arsenal the highlight. In the middle was the inaugural ‘Women’s Football Weekend’, taking place across Sunday 17th November during the international break in men’s football. Similar to the opening weekend, many WSL clubs played at men’s stadiums, with The Amex hosting Albion versus Birmingham. A sensational three-nil scoreline saw Brighton’s first WSL win of the season as Kayleigh Green’s brace and Lea Le Garrec’s first goal capped a memorable day. The Seagulls couldn’t capitalise on this momentum, going down four-nil at Manchester United and drawing two-two with Reading as a last-gasp equaliser cost Brighton all three points for the second time this campaign. There was a defeat to promoted Tottenham last week, but the progress to the knockout stages of the Continental Cup was capped off in style; beating London City Lionesses four-two on Wednesday. All this left Brighton tenth in the WSL table, two places and four points away from the sole relegation spot, and a trip to Manchester United awaited in the knockout stage of the League Cup. This afternoon’s trip to Manchester to face City was the final game in a relatively positive 2019. The BBC Red Button broadcast the match Live for some pre-Christmas football.

MCW Man City MCW Brighton

The Teams: The big team news from an Albion point of view was a change in goal, as Megan Walsh was dropped in favour of Sophie Harris. The former London Bees ‘keeper joined Brighton joined in 2018 and made her League debut against today’s opposition back in February. She went on to win the PFA Fans Player of the Month. In front of her, the familiar backline of Fliss Gibbons and Victoria Williams combined with summer signings Danique Kerkdijk and Matilde Lundorf this season. Another new face this year, French midfielder Lea Le Garrec, provided a touch of class in the middle. Aileen Whelan scored against title-chasing Chelsea back in September and opened the Brighton scoring in the recent two-all draw with Reading. Dani Bowman scored a consolation goal against Manchester City in January, during the crushing seven-one defeat in the League Cup. Left-sided winger Emily Simpkins netted in last month’s Continental Cup win at London Bees but is yet to get off the mark in the WSL. Welsh forward Kayleigh Green has five goals to her name this season, whilst Ini Umotong has four. Attacking options off the bench include Irishwoman Megan Connolly, who scored a consolation in the three-one defeat at home to West Ham. Sweden’s Amanda Nilden and England’s Maya Le Tissier also posed a threat in the final third. Missing from the squad was injured defender Fern Whelan joining long-term absentee Laura Rafferty on the sidelines.

Nick Cushing’s Manchester City side had enjoyed the luxury of picking from the cream of the England crop since their relaunch in 2013 joining the WSL. That continued here, with eight of the starting XI English. Goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck started at Sheffield United before joining City’s Development Squad as a seventeen-year-old in 2016. She made seventeen appearances last season and progressed through the ranks for the national team, making three senior England starts under Phil Neville. Steph Houghton has been the lynchpin of success, wearing the armband for both club and country and awarded an MBE in 2016. She rose to prominence during the 2012 London Olympics, scoring three crucial goals in four games for Team GB, including the decider in the match against Brazil at Wembley. Hailing from the North East she worked up the ranks at Sunderland, moved to Leeds and enjoyed three successful seasons at Arsenal in the WSL before moving to City in 2014. She’s won three WSL titles and ten Cups. Houghton has over a century of caps for England, being made captain by Mark Sampson in 2014. For a central defender, she’s scored an impressive thirteen international goals including one at each of the past two World Cups and lifted the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year. Fellow North Easterner Jill Scott has an incredible 146 England caps to her name and also played for Team GB during London 2012. Scottish midfielder Caroline Weir scored the only goal of the game in the first-ever WSL Manchester derby in September. Lauren Hemp signed a new contract earlier in the week and broke through to the England side in October for her debut cap. Up front, Ellen White shared the Golden Boot at this year’s World Cup with six goals, along with eventual winners USA’s Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. White’s partner Georgia Stanway has become a key part of club and country, winning the 2019 PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year and scoring on her England debut a year ago. England left-back Demi Stokes, German forward Pauline Bremer and South Korean Lee Geum-min were amongst the substitutes. Refereeing this clash was Lucy Oliver.

MCW Kick Off MCW Comms MCW Somers

Presentation Team: Commentary was led by Vicki Sparks. A regular voice on the Women’s game, she also reported for BBC results service Final Score and magazine programme Football Focus. She became the first female commentator to voice a men’s World Cup match Live in 2018 when she was alongside Martin Keown for Portugal versus Morocco in the group stage. Alongside her today in the commentary box was Faye White. Born locally, in Horsham, White’s youth career was spent with Horsham Ladies, playing in the first team at the age of just fourteen. By sixteen she was called up to the national team before a career-making move to Arsenal Ladies, where she spent the rest of her career in the heart of the Gunners defence and captaining the side to glory. In seventeen years at Arsenal she made over three-hundred League appearances and lifted numerous trophies during the club’s most successful ever period. In just her second season in North London she was named the FA Women’s Player’s Player of the Year. In the same season she won the FA Cup and FA Women’s Premier League Cup to add to the Premier League National Division title from her first campaign. She would win the latter a further nine times, and all but one League title between 2000 and 2010, dominating the domestic scene before the WSL was introduced in 2010. She also lifted the inaugural Super League title in 2011. Four Community Shields, an additional eight FA Cups and five Premier League Cups were added to the collection. The trophy cabinet was completed in 2007 with the UEFA Women’s Cup, the first – and to date only – English women’s side to win the European prize. She made her England senior international debut aged nineteen in 1997 against Scotland and made a total of ninety appearances for the Lionesses, scoring twelve goals and captained them for a decade including at four major tournaments; UEFA Euros 2005 and 2009 and FIFA World Cups in 2007 and 2011. Current Albion boss Hope Powell gave White the England armband in 2002. She became a familiar presence on-screen too, in the studio for British Eurosport’s knockout stage coverage of Euro 2005 held in England, as well as at major women’s international tournaments for the BBC and domestically for Sky Sports, ESPN and BT Sport both during and after her playing career. Due to a number of serious injuries, White retired from international football in 2012 and professionally the following March. She was awarded an MBE in 2006 for her work on and off the pitch, Faye White is one of England’s all-time great women’s footballers. Completing the broadcast line-up on the touchline was Kelly Somers. Since joining the BBC in 2017 she has gone on to become a key part of the women’s coverage as well as reporting for Final Score and Football Focus. She is one of the regular presenters on The Women’s Football Show, along with Reshmin Chowdhury and Eilidh Barbour, and travelled to France to report on the Women’s World Cup 2019 in the summer. She came from a stadium presenting background, on the PA for the likes of West Ham and Surrey Storm and covered the 2018 men’s World Cup for Australian television.

MCW Brighton Arriving MCW Powell MCW Half Time Analysis MCW Coming Up

The Coverage: As always on the Red Button, Live coverage began ten minutes before the scheduled kick-off time; in this case 12.20pm. Proceedings were handled out-of-vision by the commentary team of Vicki Sparks and Faye White. With two WSL matches falling foul of the weather this weekend, there were only four League games taking place; two at 12.30pm and two at 2pm. Our trip to Manchester was the only televised game, whilst all the others were available Live on the FA Player app and website. This was introduced at the start of the campaign, allowing fans to watch any WSL match they wish to, Live and free, that isn’t already being televised. Because all matches were now being filmed with multiple cameras, replays and commentary, the BBC’s magazine programme The Women’s Football Show could show a comprehensive round-up of the weekend’s action and in an earlier 7pm slot, as well as the late night repeat after Match of the Day 2. Coverage began by looking at the surviving matches on a cold, winter’s Sunday. Leaders Arsenal and their visit to Everton being the other standout fixture. A glance at the current standings followed, where an unlikely win for the Albion would see them overtake Birmingham to go ninth with nine points. City needed the win to keep the chase on Arsenal, who held a three point advantage at the summit. The commentary team talked through shots of the two squads arriving at the Academy Stadium, adjacent to the Etihad Stadium on the campus. The other member of today’s BBC team, reporter Kelly Somers, spoke with both managers to preview the clash. City boss Nick Cushing was looking for an immediate response to their defeat against Chelsea last time out, saying it was “imperative” that they win today. “I’ve always said since I’ve been the coach here, that losing a game is disappointing but you have to make sure you win the next game after you lose.” Seagulls manager Hope Powell knew her side were in for another tough afternoon. She spoke positively of the overall achievements throughout the calendar year; “We’re in a better position this time compared to last season, so I’ve got to be pleased with that. Performances have been a little bit inconsistent; we’ve got to find that consistency going into the New Year, but generally I’m relatively happy.” Manchester City midfielder Lauren Hemp was picked out as the ‘One to Watch’ by the graphics as she warmed up. And before you knew it, it was time for the teams to emerge from the tunnel and the commentators to run through the line-ups before the big kick off.

MCW Getting to Know MCW Demi Stokes MCW Everton Arsenal MCW Player of the Match

The half time whistle blew after a very comfortable forty-five minutes for the home side. The break is when the BBC roll out a few features and VTs, with these fifteen minutes being longer than the pre-match and post-match coverage they have to fill the time. The commentators reviewed the three goals from the first period. The opener from Houghton was very tricky to save when hit with that much power from such close range. Co-commentator Faye White was impressed by the finish for the second goal; “There’s still a lot for her to do for Ellen White to get that on target, especially when it’s coming in at that pace.” Whilst the third was down to Steph Houghton’s movement and good knock down from the corner, finding Hemp for an easy nod home. They also took a look back at some of the other chances for Manchester City, who could have extended their lead on a number of occasions. The first VT of the interval featured City substitute Demi Stokes in the ‘Getting to Know’ feature. Twin sisters Rosie and Mollie Kmita interviewed the left-back whilst driving around on the golf buggy. The twins played together at Brighton when they were teenagers around 2013/14 and were most recently at West Ham. When the club went professional to join the WSL for last season they faced a choice. Rosie signed her first pro contract there and moved to London Bees for this campaign, whilst Mollie decided to go down her own route and manager a nationwide coaching academy. The pair presented radio shows for BBC 5 Live during the Women’s World Cup and were regulars during the half-time break as they interviewed stars from each WSL club to try to get an insight into the new breed of women’s footballer. Following on from that we saw first half highlights from the other 12.30pm kick-off as Everton hosted Arsenal. Commentary for the FA Player, and on this edit, was provided by Matt Davies-Adams. Goalscoring machine Vivianne Miedema’s strike separated them in the first half but the injury to Beth Mead being stretchered off was the concern for Faye White after the highlights edit. After reviewing the key moments from that half, it was time to switch focus back to the Academy Stadium for the second half of Manchester City versus Brighton. No involvement from the reporter with a special guest pundit on this occasion. After the full-time whistle, the broadcast remained on-air for around five minutes in order to wrap things up from the gantry. We got to hear from the Barclays Player of the Match, Lauren Hemp, speaking with Kelly Somers pitchside. And there we had it, Brighton’s heaviest televised defeat came at the hands of the FA Cup holders as the WSL signed off for 2019 and our commentators said their goodbyes to us for another day.

MCW Teams Emerge MCW Everyone on the goalline MCW Celebration MCW Hemp goal

Story of the Match: Brighton wore their change kit of all black against the blue of Manchester City’s shirts and white of their shorts and socks. The home team kicked off, shooting from left to right. Albion’s game plan should have been clear enough; as commentator Vicki Sparks pointed out after one minute, “It will be a tough test for Brighton. So important that they keep it tight early doors.” Ten seconds later, winger Janine Beckie struck a shot from the edge of the area to sting the palms of Brighton ‘keeper Sophie Harris. She palmed it away and it hit Matilde Lundorf to go comfortably back to the stopper and the danger passed. However, referee Lucy Oliver thought otherwise and gave an indirect free-kick some eight or so yards out for what she deemed a deliberate backpass. It was a dreadful decision from the official, there was no way that could ever be deemed an intentional pass when it just hit her leg, with no City players appealing for it and the commentator even assuming it was an offside, such was the banality of the decision. A shocker early on but a golden chance for Manchester City. Up stepped Steph Houghton, captain fantastic, who actually scored from a very similar position for England in the World Cup. That time she converted low to the bottom-right of the goal as she saw it. This time she went for power, driving it straight down the middle and under the dive of Harris and the leap of the covering defenders on the line. Manchester City were gifted a goal from the referee after just two minutes, it was going to be a very long afternoon for the Seagulls. Just before the quarter-hour mark, another goal arrived. Houghton played a nice ball wide to the right where Beckie was in space. She took one touch to control and the next to cross a fantastic ball into the middle, between defence and goalkeeper. Waiting to pounce for her opportunity was England’s summer goalscoring hero Ellen White, who executed an excellent volley into the top corner from close range. Two-nil and not much Harris could have done about that strike, the technique was terrific. Cue White’s now-familiar ‘goggles’ celebration, nicked from her favourite Bundesliga team Cologne and their striker Anthony Modeste. It was a half dominated by the blues and they added further misery to Brighton with eight minutes to go before the interval. Georgia Stanway’s corner was looped to the back post. Houghton won the header to send it back across and waiting to pounce three yards away was Lauren Hemp. She celebrated a contract extension in the week and signed it with a goal, heading home over the efforts of defender Fliss Gibbons to make it three-nil. Hemp couldn’t have asked for an easier finish. Further chances fell City’s way without adding to the scoresheet in the first period, and the half-time whistle was a relief for the Albion and a chance to regroup.

MCW Disallowed Albion goal MCW Harris save MCW Stanway goal MCW Five nil  

The second half began more brightly and more evenly. A few narrow misses from City at one end were followed by the ball in the back of the net up the other, as Ini Umotong thought she had pulled one back for Brighton. Aileen Whelan’s cross on the left was floated to that near post. City ‘keeper Ellie Roebuck hadn’t had much to do in the opening hour but had to be alert here. As she jumped to claim the cross, Umotong was up with her and the ball bounced down and over the line. As Albion players wheeled away, thinking they’d scored their first WSL goal away from home this campaign, the referee’s whistle was again to hamper them. There was a moment of confusion, as both the graphics department, the commentator and Roebuck herself believed the goal had been given. But Lucy Oliver slowly marched towards where the incident took place and awarded Manchester City the free kick for a foul. She signalled a push but replays showed that not to be the case. It was a harsh decision, the goalkeeper over-protected, as the challenge from Umotong seemed to be a fair one. Applying pressure on Roebuck, as did her own defender Gemma Bonner, the England goalie appeared to fumble and allow the ball to slip through her hands and tipped it in as it bounced down. Nevertheless, the Seagulls were denied and they remained three down. The half continued to be an open one, with Brighton looking much livelier and better organised. But the home side always looked more likely to add to their tally, posing so many dangerous threats with their wealth of talent across the field. This was emphasised with a move beginning from Roebuck and ending all the way up the other end with a one-on-one for Caroline Weir. An excellent through ball from Keira Walsh took four Albion defenders out of the game and set Weir through. Sophie Harris flew off her line to close the angle down, Weir’s shot saved by the ‘keeper and looped up and over for a corner. However, a fourth was added with eleven minutes remaining when another excellent through ball cut Brighton clean apart. This was another move starting at the back with City playing it around before Walsh, in her own half, decided to go long. Her pass through the gaps was outstanding to find Georgia Stanway in on goal. She used the pace on the ball to guide it past the outrushing Harris and give herself an empty net to tap into. It was another well-worked, clinical Manchester City goal. A fifth goal really put the icing on the cake to cap off a fantastic home display. Late substitute Pauline Bremer became the fifth different scorer when her thigh improvised to flick in from a cross with less than four minutes to play. Beckie provided the assist from the right and Bremer’s touch just looped up over Harris into the other corner of the net. Lea Le Garrec worked an opportunity on the edge of the area with the final shot of the match hoping to bring Brighton a consolation, but Roebuck watched it all the way to dive and gather. So that’s where the scoring ended, a five-star performance from Manchester City to keep them in the title race amongst the chasing pack. Brighton remained towards the foot of the table ahead of the Christmas break. The next WSL fixture for the Seagulls saw bottom club Liverpool come to Crawley. That was a much more important match in the bid to remain in this League for another season.

MCW Final Score

MANCHESTER CITY WOMEN 5 BRIGHTON WOMEN 0
Houghton, White, Hemp, Stanway, Bremer

MCW Replay

PREVIOUS; #5 ARSENAL WOMEN 4-0 BRIGHTON WOMEN 29/09/2019

NEXT; #7 BRIGHTON WOMEN 0-4 ARSENAL WOMEN 12/01/2020

 

 

#10: Stoke 3-1 Brighton 01/03/2002

#10 STOKE 3-1 BRIGHTON Division Two
Friday 1st March 2002 ITV Sport Channel grab

STO Titles

PRESENTER Simon Hill GUESTS Tony Dorigo & John Hendrie
COMMENTATORS Guy Havord & Jim Beglin REPORTER Peter Stevenson
7.45pm Kick Off; Britannia Stadium, Stoke      7.30-10pm Football League Live on ITV Sport Channel

STO Promo STO Sponsor STO Intro

Context of the Match: The second and final match of Brighton’s to be broadcast Live on the ITV Sport Channel saw the Albion travel to the Potteries on the first Friday of March. The fixture promised to be a crucial one in the race for promotion to Division One, as second place travelled to fourth; five points separated us from Stoke. With a game in hand over table-toppers Reading, and six points worse off, a win for Brighton would not only close the gap on the leaders but also widen the difference from the chasing pack; only two would be automatically promoted. When these two met back in September at Withdean, the Albion ran out one-nil victors thanks to Paul Watson’s last minute winner. Since the last televised match back in January – the horrific four nil defeat at Brentford on ITV – Brighton had lost just once in seven, away at Oldham. The home form at fortress Withdean had been excellent all season for Peter Taylor, just a solitary defeat thus far to the Bees of Brentford. It was on the road where defeats were on the increase, with three since the turn of the year. With ten games remaining, both teams were in a good place to secure a top six spot. But, having been near the top all season, the Seagulls wanted more. They were eyeing up the automatic places for the second successive season. With six further games to come in March, this was the beginning of a crucial period as matches came thick and fast. Gudjon Thordarson’s Stoke side knew all about that end of season pressure, having been unsuccessful in the Play Offs in each of the previous two seasons. After an indifferent start, it was the defeat at Brighton which sparked Stoke into life, winning eight and drawing two of their next ten games. However, things began to fall apart after the new year, losing five out of nine. They got back to winning ways at the Britannia last weekend thanks to a four-nil victory over Bury. Tonight’s match, a few days ahead of the thirtieth anniversary of Stoke’s famous League Cup triumph over Chelsea at Wembley, was sure to be crucial in the fight at the top. The ITV Sport Channel team were present and correct to beam it direct to our screens.

STO Stoke STO Formation STO Brighton

The Teams: The Albion made three changes from the midweek draw at Bournemouth. Simon Morgan was rested for that one, but his presence is required up against a physical, tall Stoke side. Youth product Adam Virgo dropped out. The key absentee remained Bobby Zamora, serving the third and final match of his suspension following a red card during the two-nil defeat at Oldham. Eighteen-year-old Chris McPhee took his place for the first two matches, marking another full debut for an academy player, but Lee Steele was preferred tonight. The third change saw Gary Hart come into the eleven in place of Steve Melton. Junior Lewis linked up with Peter Taylor once again, having worked together most recently at Leicester. The loanee joined at the start of February and has featured in all six games since. Brighton’s formation will be a 4-3-3 come 4-5-1, placing emphasis on the wide play of Hart and Paul Brooker to get forward and support Steele as much as possible. Robbie Pethick joined in the summer ahead of the step up to Division Two, having spent six years and around 200 appearances at Portsmouth. Two years at Bristol Rovers followed for the versatile defender pushing up into midfield here. Richard Carpenter formed the lynchpin in the middle of the park. He protected the back line featuring the ever-dependant Danny Cullip and long-serving full backs Paul Watson and Kerry Mayo. Michel Kuipers kept goal, returning to the side at the end of January having missed the previous month through injury. Peter Taylor did not name a goalkeeper on the bench for the sixth game in a row, with only the inexperience of Will Packham and coach John Keeley eligible ‘keepers on the books. Twenty-one-year-old midfielder David Lee did make the substitutes list, he joined from Hull in February and came up through the Tottenham youth system. Also in the squad was Daniel Webb, son of ex-Chelsea and QPR defender David. He joined on loan from Southend but found his opportunities with the Shrimpers limited after his father’s resignation from the managerial position back in October.

Stoke’s Icelandic manager Gudjon Thordarson switched to three up front for Tuesday’s four-nil win over Bury. It paid dividends and stuck with the trio of Chris Iwelumo, who scored twice in that match, Arnar Gunnlaugsson, on loan from Leicester, and Deon Burton, a Derby loanee, again tonight. The four-three-three formation would rely on full-backs Clive Clarke and Wayne Thomas bombing down the channels to support the attacking threat as the midfield three were quite narrow. That comprised ever-present Bjarni Gudjonsson, Belgian Jurgen Vandeurzen and Irishman James O’Connor. The latter came through Stoke’s youth ranks and been a part of the first team since 1998. Gudjonsson was previously on the books of Newcastle and Genk before moving to the Potteries in 2000 to link up with his dad, the current Stoke boss. More of the Icelandic contingent were on the bench, Stefan Thordarson and Brynjar Gunnarsson. Also warming up on the sidelines was former Dutch international Peter Hoekstra. Refereeing was Bill Jordan.

STO Hill STO Hendrie STO Dorigo STO Commentary Team

Presentation Team: This match was hosted by Simon Hill, more commonly found reporting on the touchline for the ITV Sport Channel. Hill moved across from BBC Radio 5 Live where he was host and reporter on their domestic and European coverage. He was no stranger in front of the camera though this season, co-hosting Division One’s Saturday evening highlights programme Football First with regular Live host Matt Smith. The format of that show allowed Smith and his pundits in the main area to dissect the key games, whilst Hill and his pundit looked at the rest of the Division over the other side of the studio. He was the leading match reporter for the regular Thursday and Sunday night Live games in a busy season for ITV. Joining him in the Britannia Stadium studio were pundits John Hendrie and Tony Dorigo. They were two of four regulars on ITV, with Russell Osman and Garry Nelson the others. Hendrie also covered our last Live match, the four-nil horror show at Brentford, and was back looking at things from an Albion perspective again tonight. The former Bradford, Middlesbrough and Barnsley striker won this Division with the Bantams back in the 1984/85 season. Tony Dorigo spent his final season playing for Stoke where he was club captain before retiring at the age of thirty-five. He moved straight into punditry with the ITV Sport Channel with his familiar Aussie accent, growing up in Adelaide before writing to more than a dozen English football clubs as a teenager asking for a trial. Aston Villa accepted and the defender went on to play more than a century of matches in claret and blue in the eighties before moving to Chelsea for four years then Leeds for a further six. At the Blues he won the second tier Championship and the Full Members Cup, whilst at Elland Road lifted the last top flight trophy before the launch of the Premiership in 1992. He earned fifteen senior England caps and Player of the Year awards at Villa, Chelsea, Leeds and in his one and only season at Italian side Torino. Before seeing out his career at the Britannia Stadium, Dorigo spent two years with Derby County.

STO Studio

In the commentary box were Guy Havord and Jim Beglin. Havord was one of Sky Sports voices of La Liga for four seasons before moving to ITV Digital. He was also used on the world feed coverage of 3pm Saturday Premiership matches, highlights of which were also used by Sky. As well as reporting on the pre-cursor to Sky Sports News, Sky Sports Centre, he was part of the team that covered the 2000 FA Cup Final when he was at the Chelsea team hotel. Prior to his television work, Havord was a commentator on BBC Radio Lancashire covering the success of the likes of Manchester City and Burnley in the North West in the early 90s. Jim Beglin’s successful playing career was devastatingly cut short in 1991 through the recurrence of a serious knee injury aged just 27. His leg was badly broken four years earlier and whilst recovering from that, Beglin picked up a knee cartilage injury too. He spent six years at Liverpool, playing over a century of matches and winning the League and Cup double in 1986 as well as the Charity Shield later that year. He played fifteen times for the Republic of Ireland and lifted the old Second Division title at Leeds in 1990. With his playing days curtailed early, Beglin moved into punditry both at home in Ireland as well as in the UK. He built up a career in the North West with ITV region Granada from the mid-90s, co-commentating on matches, punditing in the studio and even presenting sports bulletins and voicing goals round-ups for the local evening news on Granada Goals Extra and Granada Soccer Night. Beglin was utilised nationally by ITV from the 2000/01 season, working across their domestic and UEFA Champions League portfolio before becoming a prominent voice on the ITV Sport Channel this campaign. Both Beglin and Havord would be playing a part in ITV’s coverage of the 2002 World Cup. Completing tonight’s line up was touchline reporter Peter Stevenson. Like Beglin, his career had largely been based in the North West of England, spending the 1990s on regional news programme BBC North West Tonight. He started as a desk journalist writing bulletins for the programme’s hosts as well as producing studio items before moving out into the field himself. He specialised in sport and, in particular, football covering the likes of Manchester United’s European adventures and the European Championships in 2000. He joined ITV for the launch of the Sport Channel and spent much of his time still in the North West reporting on the clubs in that region for highlights shows and Live match features.

STO League Cup 1972 STO Conroy STO Thordarson STO Brighton team

The Coverage: Tonight’s build up came on-air at 7.30pm, fifteen minutes prior to kick off. This was the regular programme time for a Friday night Live match on the ITV Sport Channel. The Matchday Programme, previewing the entire Nationwide League weekend preceded the Live game from 6.30pm presented in the studio by Lisa Rogers and Albion fan Dave Beckett. This weekly show looked ahead to all the key games over the weekend, whilst an additional Sunday afternoon edition did similar for that evening’s Live match. Our Division Two clash with Stoke was one of up to fifteen matches from the third and fourth tiers of English football to be broadcast Live. The graphics were used across all of the ITV Sport Channel output, heavily relying on different shades of blue and using either a fade in or a smooth reveal across the screen. During the match, replay transitions saw the ‘ITV Sport’ part of the logo wipe from top-left to bottom-right and flipped over to reveal ‘Channel’ at the end. The most fun graphic though was when getting a yellow or red card, as an animated arm would appear and wave the card. The coverage was sponsored by Nationwide and the theme music remained a short library clip to introduce the show. Background music throughout the programme, and indeed the season, was the excellent Another Chance by Roger Sanchez. Presentation came from a studio located in the corner of the stadium. In host Simon Hill’s introduction, he outlined the potential for this Stoke City club to go places – awake “the sleeping giant” – with a stadium fit for First Division football. Meanwhile, the question was asked about how Brighton would cope without “hot-shot striker Bobby Zamora”, suspended tonight as fourth hosted second. After introducing pundits John Hendrie and Tony Dorigo, it was straight down to business. Stoke were celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of their League Cup triumph, a two-one win over Chelsea in the 1972 Final. We saw the goals from that match, complete with original Brian Moore commentary, before going down to pitchside where reporter Peter Stevenson was with the first goalscorer from that day, Terry Conroy. When it cut back to the studio, the team joked that his appearance resembled snooker great Dennis Taylor now!

STO Video Scouting STO Video Scouting analysis STO Junior Lewis STO Matches to Come

Once again, each pundit was loosely designated a team to concentrate on; John Hendrie looking at Brighton whilst, of course, Tony Dorigo focussed on his old team Stoke. Hendrie’s overall assessment of the Albion was of two sides; “Excellent at home, they’ve been absolutely magnificent at home. It’s just the past couple of months away from home, form has been a wee bit patchy.” He had watched Brighton three times in six weeks and, disappointingly, he hadn’t seen a win or even a goal from the Seagulls. Peter Stevenson spoke with the Stoke boss Gudjon Thordarson for his pre-match thoughts. He explained it was a crucial match if they were to be in the hunt for the top two; “It’s a six-pointer. We’re a bit behind and very important for us to catch up and collect the points. It [automatic promotion] will be difficult if we don’t get something out of this game.” The studio team then took a quick look at the two line-ups, singling out Stoke’s front three and Albion’s Lee Steele in “the Bobby Zamora role this evening”. Up next it was the turn of the Video Scouting reports, which you can view at the bottom of this post. Dorigo looked at the problems Stoke have had since changing their formation and style, going narrower making it easier to defend against them and lacking in width. Hendrie looked at the contrast for the Albion when playing with, and without, Bobby Zamora. With him there were chances galore, as he’s able to find space and use his creativity to conjure something up. Whereas without Zamora, the Albion lack a real target man. Clips were shown from the Oldham defeat where Danny Webb was leading the line and did not have the same positive effect. With the build-up done, time to hand over to the commentary team, at a noisy Britannia, of Guy Havord and Jim Beglin. At half time, the studio team spent around five minutes reviewing the key moments from the first half. Specifically, the opening goal from Stoke’s Chris Iwelumo and the Lee Steele chance just before half time for the Seagulls. The ‘John Hendrie jinx’ continued, having watched Brighton four times now and not yet seen them score, losing the previous three. But he was complimentary about the style of play, citing it as the best he’s seen so far from Albion. He praised the closing down and the midfield battling in particular. Just before the start of the second half, another of Stoke’s 1972 League Cup winners spoke with reporter Peter Stevenson; this time Denis Smith. Stoke wore a replica of that ’72 kit, with added modern-day sponsorship, in tribute to the thirtieth anniversary.

STO Yellow Card STO Sub STO Match Analysis STO Coming Up

At half time, the studio team spent around five minutes reviewing the key moments from the first half. Specifically, the opening goal from Stoke’s Chris Iwelumo and the Lee Steele chance just before half time for the Seagulls. The ‘John Hendrie jinx’ continued, having watched Brighton four times now and not yet seen them score, losing the previous three. But he was complimentary about the style of play, citing it as the best he’s seen so far from Albion. He praised the closing down and the midfield battling in particular. Just before the start of the second half, another of Stoke’s 1972 League Cup winners spoke with reporter Peter Stevenson; this time Denis Smith. Stoke wore a replica of that ’72 kit, with added modern-day sponsorship, in tribute to the thirtieth anniversary. Upon the full time whistle, after the commentators took a quick look at the match highlights, Stevenson caught up with Man of the Match; Stoke’s midfield engine James O’Connor. He paid tribute, half in jest, to pundit Tony Dorigo for showing Clive Clarke the ropes during their time together last season. After the break, around ten minutes of the programme remained for the studio team to wrap up and review. A look at the table showed the Albion six points off Reading with ten games left to play. Stoke in third closed the gap on Brighton to two points but having played once more. They analysed the Stoke penalty incident which restored the home side’s lead, clearly highlighting the foul from Cullip which may have been missed by viewers first time round. In his interview with Peter Stevenson, Gudjon Thordarson said it “was a tense start” but “was meant to be a very, very tight game.” He blamed a lapse in concentration for the Albion equaliser but the decision to award his side a penalty just moments later was the correct one. There wasn’t quite time to hear from Peter Taylor during the Live show, or any Brighton representative. The man usually so calm and collected on the sidelines was getting increasingly irate during the match, clearly upset with some of the officiating and furious with some costly errors. The pundits were quick to point out that, although the result was disappointing for the Seagulls, they were still second and flying, Bobby Zamora would be back available for the next match and this was the first season back at this level for six years. Things were definitely still shaping up for another terrific season and with six of the remaining ten matches at home, their destiny was in their own hands.

STO Kick Off STO Comms STO Referee STO Iwelumo goal

Story of the Match: The Seagulls got the game underway, kicking from right to left in the first half, wearing the change shorts of blue so as not to clash with Stoke’s white. The home side signalled their intentions in the third minute when a Deon Burton header went just over from close range; Kerry Mayo the defender doing just enough to put him off. That sparked the supporters into their familiar, and very loud, rendition of Tom Jones’ classic, Delilah. Albion, keen to get behind the Potters defence, were caught offside four times in the opening dozen minutes. Just that bit too eager. Stoke’s confidence grew and Michel Kuipers was called into action on a number of occasions to thwart their long range efforts. At the other end, City’s ‘keeper Neil Cutler got into a tangle with his defender Sergei Shtaniuk which almost presented Lee Steele with a tap in when the ball was dropped to the ground. Unfortunately for Steele, it didn’t come down quick enough for him to swing a leg at and the defender cleared eventually. But it was a goalkeeping error from Kuipers in the twenty-ninth minute which saw the home team break the deadlock. Clive Clarke swung a ball into the box from the left. Chris Iwelumo was the target, around twelve yards out, jumping with Simon Morgan. Kuipers thought the ball should have been his and came flying out of his goal to claim. He mistimed it, aiming a punch nowhere near and allowing Iwelumo to head into an empty net for his third goal in four days. Cue more cries of Delilah from the Staffordshire club. Kuipers had to be alert to get down low and save from Gunnlaugsson’s header just a couple of minutes later. The Dutchman’s agility keeping that effort out with Stoke firmly in the ascendancy. The rebound from Burton was fired into the side-netting. The Albion confidence dropped noticeably for the remainder of the half after the goal. However, a fantastic opportunity found its way to Lee Steele four minutes before the interval. A long ball from Richard Carpenter over the top sent Paul Brooker clear on the right wing. When the bounce settled he whipped in a fabulous first-time cross to the centre where Steele was unmarked. Six yards out, the striker stretched his leg and met it on the volley hoping to just guide it home. But Neil Cutler was alert and spread himself so it hit an outstretched arm for a vital, goal-saving block. It was by far Albion’s best opportunity. The half time whistle gave a chance to regroup with the scoreline kept to just one goal to nil. Stoke began the second half well too and could’ve doubled the advantage but for Kuipers save. Iwelumo continued to cause Albion problems, winning a header to knock it down to Gunnlaugsson. His touch took it past Junior Lewis in the box before Jurgen Vandeurzen took over to shoot. Kuipers blocked with his knees, via a little deflection on the way.

STO Penalty decision STO Missed penalty STO Equaliser STO Full Time

What followed next was a dramatic five minutes in which the game ebbed one way then the other. Lee Steele received the ball around forty yards from goal and showed real desire to take on all-comers. With four Stoke players around him he burst his way through into the penalty area before being upended by Wayne Thomas. The referee gave the penalty. It did look quite soft but the hip of Thomas just seemed to brush Steele and when running at pace it doesn’t take much to knock you off stride. After seeing a replay, cue the surprise of seeing Robbie Pethick placing the ball on the spot in front of 998 travelling Seagulls supporters. This was a man who had not scored for Brighton before and, as far as I could see, had never scored a penalty in his career. Pethick’s kick was tipped round the post by Cutler superbly. However, the drama continued from the resulting corner taken by Paul Watson. The left-footed in swinger was flicked on by Steele to Hart. His instincts stuck out a leg to prod the ball goalwards. Cutler spilled the tame effort right at the feet of Steele to nab an equaliser from just a couple of yards out. Cutler went from hero to zero in less than a minute. Immediately Stoke almost regained the lead direct from a Gunnlaugsson free kick on the edge of the box, Pethick penalised for a foul with a yellow card. To complete this bonkers few minutes, the rebound scrambled around the area before referee Bill Jordan gave Stoke a penalty. The Brighton players were infuriated. The replay showed Danny Cullip’s attempt at blocking off Gudjonsson to be illegal, using the length of his forearm to chop at the neck and correctly a penalty was awarded, with a yellow card to boot. Up stepped Arnar Gunnlaugsson to tuck the dead ball away, low in the corner to his right for his first City goal. Brighton were level for all of three minutes. The hour mark signalled a change for Peter Taylor, in both personnel and formation, bringing Pethick off for Daniel Webb. Lee Steele’s frustrating night was summed up when he was booked for diving when actually there was clear contact. And followed up a minute later when a great pass from Watson sent him through on goal. His touch took it away from firstly Thomas, then the goalkeeper but, off balance, his shot was sliced horribly wide when there were better placed options available. With a quarter of an hour to go, the frustration of Webb got the better of him when he was the next name to go in the book for a wild barge into Cutler. The absence of Zamora loomed large over Brighton. The final roll of the dice saw Steve Melton replace Gary Hart in the middle. Brighton piled on the pressure but Stoke dug deep and restricted them to no serious chances in the closing stages. But it was the red and white stripes who had the final say, clinching victory with another goal four minutes from time. Full back Clive Clarke was the unlikely scorer, his second ever League goal, running in from the left and playing a great one-two with substitute Peter Hoekstra. Clarke continued his run and hit a delightful left-footed strike to almost loop over the defenders and out of Kuipers reach to fly into the far side of the net. A sublime way to round off a vital win for Stoke. Full time under the lights with a fantastic atmosphere, Stoke City three, Brighton and Hove Albion one. The small matter of the leaders Reading was to come for the Albion in eight days’ time; get a result there and not only automatic promotion was very much on, but also the title. The final home match of the campaign against Swindon would turn out to be a celebratory one to cap off a magnificent season for the Seagulls.

STO Table

STOKE 3 BRIGHTON 1
Iwelumo, Gunnlaugsson, Clarke Steele

STO Replay

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NEXT; #11 WOLVES 1-1 BRIGHTON 11/11/2002

#9: Brentford 4-0 Brighton 24/01/2002

#9 BRENTFORD 4-0 BRIGHTON Division Two
Thursday 24th January 2002 ITV Sport Channel grab

BRE Titles

PRESENTER Matt Smith GUESTS Russell Osman & John Hendrie
COMMENTATORS Guy Havord & David Fairclough REPORTER Simon Hill
7.45pm Kick Off; Griffin Park, Brentford      7-10pm Football League Live on ITV Sport Channel

ITV Trail BRE Promo BRE Ident BRE Sponsor BRE Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton’s excellent first half of the centenary season, back in the third tier, had already earned them a Live television when the Sky Sports cameras showcased the FA Cup Second Round’s highest-ranked side defeating Rushden and Diamonds at Withdean back in December. Now it was the turn of Nationwide League broadcasters ITV Digital to put the Albion in the spotlight with this top seven clash at Brentford in late January. After winning the Division Three title last season, not many expected Brighton to be in contention for the prize again this term. Particularly after Championship manager Micky Adams left to become Leicester’s number two in October. The Foxes old boss Peter Taylor went the other way and immediately maintained our winning momentum. His first game in charge saw an impressive three-nil home win over Oldham. Six further victories in the League followed with just a solitary defeat; an uncharacteristic heavy loss at Wigan twelve days ago. It was the amount of draws that were clipping the Seagulls wings at the top – six out of Taylor’s first eleven matches saw the club slide off first position into second. Still, with star striker Bobby Zamora up top and much of the foundations of last year’s side going strong and giving it their all, the club was very much on course for a fast-track through the lower Leagues. The step up in Division proved no problem for this group. The visit to West London for tonight’s clash provoked the ITV Sport Channel to move it forward to the Thursday and select it for Live broadcast; Brighton’s first in the League for three years. The Bees were the only side to win at Withdean in Division Two, goals from Rowlands and Ingimarsson enough for the points. Steve Coppell’s Brentford side were a point outside the Play Off pack and aiming for higher. They made their best start to a League campaign since 1934/35 and topped the table back in the Autumn. However, a sticky spell since November brought about just two wins in twelve as the rot set in. They lost their last five in a row. Now, the Albion stood in their way. Could we pile on the misery in front of the ITV Digital viewers?

BRE Brentford BRE Formation BRE Brighton

The Teams: Peter Taylor called upon one of his former players to deputise for the injured goalkeeper Michel Kuipers when he signed Simon Royce on loan from Leicester in December. He played every League match since, with youngster Will Packham going in for the FA Cup defeat to Preston. With Kuipers now on the mend he could only make do for a spot on the bench. The back line of Paul Watson and Danny Cullip were regular names on the team sheet both this season and last and played together at Griffin Park before joining the Albion. Left-back Kerry Mayo came up through the ranks whilst more recent youth graduate Adam Virgo came in to replace the injured Simon Morgan, who went off with a head knock at the weekend. Providing experience across the middle were the regular trio of Charlie Oatway (another of the ex-Brentford men), Richard Carpenter and captain Paul Rogers. Trickery and pace on the wings came from Gary Hart on the right and Nathan Jones on the left. Leading the charge with twenty League and four Cup goals was the one and only Bobby Zamora. The striker turned twenty-one last week and celebrated with five goals in the two subsequent matches including a hat-trick in the four-three thriller with Cambridge. Attacking options off the bench included Scouse striker Lee Steele, who moved from Shrewsbury ahead of last season, and ex-Nottingham Forest and Stoke midfielder Steve Melton. For the home side, goalkeeper Paul Smith started for just the second time after being signed in 2000 following an impressive display on trial for Crawley against the Bees. He conceded six on his debut at Swansea but came in to the side today in place of fall guy Gottskalksson. Fellow Icelander Ivar Ingimarsson netted in the reverse fixture back in October. Left-back Ijah Anderson began life at Premier League Tottenham where he failed to make any first team starts but moved to Griffin Park in ’95. £110,000 was paid for the signature of midfield captain Paul Evans three years ago. Fans favourite Gavin Mahon was attracting attention from clubs up high after a stellar season. Highly-rated midfielder Steve Sidwell was on a year long loan from Arsenal, whilst twenty-year-old Irishman Stephen Hunt played out wide. Strikers Lloyd Owusu and Ben Burgess, a loanee from Blackburn, were banging in the goals with eleven each in the League to date. Former Cambridge and Charlton man Mark McCammon was on the bench if required. Tonight’s referee was Trevor Parkes of Birmingham.

BRE Smith BRE Osman BRE Hendrie Havord and FaircloughBRE Studio

Presentation Team: The face of the ITV Sport Channel was host Matt Smith. He was signed as the frontman for Live Nationwide League matches as well as weekly Saturday night studio highlights show Football First. In addition, he anchored Worthington Cup, LDV Vans Trophy and UEFA Champions League games for the channel. Prior to ITV, Smith worked on a variety of output for the BBC. This included stints on BBC News 24 and Breakfast as well as secondary presenter on the World Snooker coverage and reporting at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Alongside Katy Hill he hosted Sunday morning children’s programme Football Fever and popped up doing features during Euro 2000. His first sports role was newsreading on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 1. Accompanying him in the ITV Sport Channel studio situated in Griffin Park were John Hendrie and Russell Osman. They were two of the regular Live match pundits, with Tony Dorigo and Garry Nelson the others. Former centre-back Russell Osman played eleven times for England in the eighties as well as a dozen games towards the end of his career for the Albion in 1995/96. He’s probably best known for more than three-hundred appearances at Ipswich, where he won the UEFA Cup, he also played over a century of games for both Leicester and Southampton. A role on the big screen arrived whilst at Portman Road when he was one of the prisoners-of-war footballers in the film Escape to Victory. Since retiring in 1996 he had very brief spells in management with Plymouth and Cardiff and joined ITV Sport for the 2001/2002 season. Scottish ex-striker John Hendrie enjoyed success at Middlesbrough for the first six years of the nineties. He won the Third Tier with Bradford in 1985 and the Second Tier with Leeds five years later. He saw out his playing career with Barnsley but couldn’t stop them from being relegated from the Premiership after just one year in 1998. He then took over as manager from ex-Albion Danny Wilson for their Division One return but was sacked in April 1999 after failing to earn a Play Off spot. He too joined ITV Sport for this season. In the commentary box tonight were Guy Havord and David Fairclough. Both moved to ITV specifically for the Nationwide League coverage, where they were a regular partnership throughout the season. Havord joined from Sky Sports, where he was a commentator on Live Spanish football as well as a reporter for the daily news programme Sky Sports Centre. His first match for the ITV Sport Channel came in the opening week of the season, when he voiced the goalless draw between Rushden and Diamonds and Lincoln City alongside David Pleat. Former striker David Fairclough enjoyed an illustrious playing career with Liverpool, earning the affectionate nickname ‘super-sub’ for his game-changing impacts off the bench. During his eight years at Anfield, Fairclough won three League titles, four Charity Shields, the League Cup, the UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and two European Cups. His later career was less successful as he failed to settle anywhere with short spells at the likes of Norwich, Oldham, Tranmere and Wigan. He also played abroad, for Luzern in Switzerland and Beveren in Belgium, before hanging up his boots in 1991. Since retirement he earned a living on the famous after-dinner circuit and was closely associated with Liverpool once more. Completing tonight’s ITV line up was reporter Simon Hill. He joined the Sport Channel from the BBC where he worked across both television and radio. Hill presented stints on BBC News 24 when ITV signed him up to host and report across the Nationwide coverage, on the touchline at the big games as well as fronting the occasional match. Prior to this he worked on Five Live as a presenter and commentator on Premiership and European coverage.

BRE Reverse Fixture BRE Team News BRE Matches to Come BRE Matches to Come 2

The Coverage: The ITV Sport Channel won exclusively Live rights to broadcast the Nationwide League for three seasons from the beginning of the 2001/2002 term, taking over from Sky Sports who held the contract for the previous five years. ITV’s deal entitled them to show 65 Live Division One matches, up to 15 Division Two and Three games and a further 15 Worthington Cup ties each season, plus the LDV Vans Trophy Finals and Divisional Play Off Finals. This was in additional to the UEFA Champions League rights ITV already held and broadcast under the guise of OnDigital, which rebranded to ITV Digital ahead of the flagship Sport channel launch. ITV1 would broadcast the main Champions League tie each round as well as top flight highlights on a Saturday for the first time in the Premiership era. Regional ITV would also show a selected number of Nationwide League matches on a Sunday afternoon. This campaign really was a feast of football on ITV. On the Sport Channel, the main bulk of Nationwide matches were scheduled on Thursday evenings and Sunday teatimes, with Friday nights and Saturday afternoons also utilised when possible. Thursdays and Sundays were the chosen kick off times that avoided a clash with the top flight matches on Sky and pay-per-view. For Thursday games, coverage would begin at 7pm for the 7.45pm start and would be hosted from a studio in the ground. Up to seventeen cameras covered a Live ITV match, more than this level had ever received before. Our host Matt Smith introduced the programme from the corner of Griffin Park between home and away supporters, as the forty-five minute build up got underway. The theme tune chosen was not a recognisable piece of music, instead using a short specially composed ditty over shots of goals and celebrations culminating in the words “Football League Live” appearing on a brick wall outside a stadium.

BRE Bailey BRE Coppell

In the studio with Matt Smith were pundits Russell Osman and John Hendrie. Osman was designated the ‘home’ guest, Hendrie concentrated on the away side. They began by giving a quick word on each team; Osman warned of Brentford’s dreadful run of form sliding them down the League ladder, whilst Hendrie told of how Peter Taylor steadied the Albion ship after taking over from Micky Adams. We then were reminded how the reverse fixture played out back in October, as Albion lost at Withdean for the only time in the League thus far, soundtracked by Seagulls very own Fatboy Slim and Push the Tempo. A glance at the table showed Brentford one point and one place off Tranmere in sixth, whilst the Albion trailed leaders Reading by six points but with two games in hand. Our first VT report of the night came from Robin Bailey and focussed on the Brentford manager Steve Coppell, in his first season in charge. Bailey, living up to his alcohol-related name, explored each corner of Griffin Park where famously four pubs sat. “At each pub you get a different theory as to why Steve Coppell’s men are in the promotion frame.” For example, at The Princess Royal pub they believed Coppell made good players better and improved the club’s potential getting the most out of the squad. During his chat with Bailey, Coppell was happy with that assessment. At The Griffin, it was the goals from Ben Burgess and Lloyd Owusu who impressed the regulars. Over at The Royal Oak it was their belief that the achievement of going top of the table earlier on in the season which gave the team promotion confidence. Whilst finally at The New Inn, they said it was the commitments of the community that was an important factor, like when the game against Peterborough was free to attend. Bailey’s report gave a well-rounded picture of Brentford’s season so far and why they were doing as well as they were. Despite the poor run of form recently, Brighton would be facing a good, well-run club with a good bunch of players. It concluded how all good reports should; by downing a pint.

BRE Taylor BRE Zamora warm up

Our next VT from reporter Linda O’Brien focussed on the Seagulls. She spoke with Peter Taylor about taking over the reins, not having to change too much and the prospect of promotion. Taylor started by bemoaning his luck in the jobs he’s replacing; “I’m one of these fools that keep taking over from good managers! I’ve taken over from Barry Fry when he was flying at Southend, Tony Pulis when he was doing so well with Gillingham, Martin O’Neill of course at Leicester, and Micky Adams here.” On the possibility of successive promotions, Taylor liked what he saw of the Albion. “If we keep our act together, if we keep our form right and we keep free of injuries then we’re gonna be there or there abouts, no doubt about it.” When you have somebody scoring for fun like Bobby Zamora does, the bigger clubs soon start sniffing around. Forty-eight League goals and counting since the beginning of last season has seen interest from the top flight, which Taylor believed was Zamora’s destiny one day. “He deserves to be in the Premiership. He’s a great lad, he’s gonna be a tremendous player, he’s a very hardworking boy and he deserves to play at the highest level. But I’ve said to him there’s gonna be a right time and that time isn’t yet.” Taylor’s biggest bug-bear since joining the South Coast was the severe lack of facilities. Not just the stadium but the training pitch needed work too. “This club is only gonna go somewhere with the right backing and we need a new stadium. Everybody needs this new stadium. I can’t believe that the town is not proud of what Brighton have done and I can’t believe they don’t want to put us into a brand new stadium, like other clubs do, other areas do, so we can be successful,” Taylor cried. Back in the studio, the team discussed the qualities of Bobby Zamora over shots of him stretching out on the pitch. John Hendrie praised his “willingness to work”, “he’s very nimble on his feet and, most of all, he’s an excellent finisher.” They also championed the cause for the new stadium at the proposed site of Falmer. The power of television to get this message across would never not be utilised.

BRE Booker BRE Watson

After the break, touchline reporter Simon Hill spoke with Brentford chairman Ron Noades and we heard again from Peter Taylor, this time on the night. Taylor discussed the lack of goals from people not named Bobby Zamora, emphasising the importance of the young striker to all Albion’s hopes. “We haven’t got enough goalscorers in the team. Bobby of course has been outstanding, I think Lee Steele’s the next one on seven goals so we could with some other members of the team scoring.” He was playing down Brentford’s dreadful run of form, saying “Sometimes that’s the worst time to play somebody,” and stressing the importance of an early goal. Noades was positive about Brighton and thought his club were in for a tough night but he also signalled his intentions of withdrawing his funding from next season as he scaled back his involvement with the Bees after a short association. The chairman was more famously associated with Crystal Palace where he was in charge for seventeen years. The third and final pre-match VT focussed on the links between tonight’s two sides, with Brighton assistant manager Bob Booker and defender Paul Watson interviewed ahead of their return to Griffin Park. Booker spent around twenty years there from a teenager right through to his coaching career. “I’ve got a lot of fond memories there,” Booker told, “I wasn’t that particularly happy the last couple of years once Micky Adams had left so once the chance came to come down to Brighton with Micky I was always gonna grab it.” Whilst Watson explained how a bunch of them followed Adams around too; “Micky Adams took two or three of us from Fulham to Brentford and then we was lucky enough when he took the job down here that he brought a few of us down here as well.” The report, again by Linda O’Brien, also touched upon the continuity from the Brentford contingent through the recent change of management from Adams to Taylor making for a smooth transition. Adams last match in charge of the Albion was the defeat at home to Brentford, which Booker called “a sad evening… We don’t seem to lose many at Withdean so that will stick in the players minds.” Elsewhere in football, news broke that Premiership Aston Villa had lost manager and ex-Albion midfielder John Gregory when he resigned after four years in charge.

BRE Video Scouting BRE Scouting Left Side

The final portion of the build-up centred around the two pundits pre-prepared Video Scouting reports; the set piece of each and every ITV Sport Channel match preview. These scouting reports were detailed analysis of a formation or tactic employed by the team in question and illustrated with footage from a recent match as well as graphics overlaid to emphasise the point. Russell Osman, concentrating on Brentford, talked about the strength of the two centre-backs – Darren Powell and Ivar Ingimarsson – and their work as a pairing. He also highlighted the physical danger Brentford posed from free kicks and corners. John Hendrie’s analysis of Brighton was more negative as he showcased the frailties of the Albion’s left side in the recent defeat at Wigan. With three midfielders chasing back, he noticed left-back Kerry Mayo tried to step up and get involved when he was better tracking back and defending. The next example saw left winger Nathan Jones leave his man for Mayo to pick up meaning the defence wasn’t tight enough to stop a dangerous cross. “Wigan were running riot down the right hand side,” he told. Backing off also allowed space and time for Wigan to create. Hendrie’s second piece of analysis centred on ball watching by the Seagulls. Watching the ball but not the man caught the experienced Simon Morgan out in the same game, as Andy Liddle stole a march. Danny Cullip was a guilty party too when charging out of the box into no man’s land, leaving his marker to drift in to the six yard line unmarked. The next example saw Liddle score as Cullip again was caught out. Hendrie did caveat this by stating “For all what I’ve just shown there, I don’t think this has been a true reflection of their season!” The pundits were split with their predictions, each sticking with the side they did their research on. With that the scene was set and Matt Smith handed up to the gantry where commentators Guy Havord and David Fairclough were standing by.

BRE Analysis BRE Taylor post match

At half time the studio team were full of praise and compliments for the way Brentford dominated the first period. “Brighton weren’t at the races”, was how Russell Osman described the Seagulls efforts, or lack of. John Hendrie wasn’t impressed by Brighton backing off so much in defence and lacking a final ball at the other end. For the analysis of the opening goal, Osman was dumbfounded by Brighton’s lack of men on the post to allow the header to bounce in. Hendrie was unimpressed by the lack of urgency from Taylor’s men to close the ball down and be first, leading to the second goal after good work from Dobson. Reporter Simon Hill managed to squeeze in a word with Brentford’s managing director Gary Hargreaves in the tunnel before the teams emerged for the second half. After the final whistle, as with all ITV Sport Channel matches, commentator Guy Havord talked us through the goals and key incidents from the match in a quick highlight round-up before handing downstairs to reporter Simon Hill for some immediate post-match reaction. He spoke with double goalscorer and Man of the Match Ben Burgess. Before heading to the ad break, Matt Smith and the studio team followed it up with some brief comment of their own. We then returned to Simon Hill who had a delighted Steve Coppell with him. After the commercials, around ten minutes remained to wrap the coverage up before the off-air time of 10pm. The win lifted the Bees into the Play Off spots as fifth was now theirs. Brighton remained in second but had eaten up one of the games in hand over the leaders. The match analysis showed how much better Brentford were at closing the opposition down and giving them no space to move, being more determined and quicker to the ball. When Peter Taylor left the dressing room to speak with Simon Hill, he was gracious in defeat. “We didn’t deserve anything tonight, I thought Brentford deserved everything they got and full credit to them.” He thought his players took too long to get the ball forward combined with Brentford’s quick closing down and hurrying made the home side look even better than they were. The final word from the studio believed both Brighton and Brentford would have enough to secure top six spots come the end of the season. With a quick look ahead to some of the numerous matches coming up on the channel Live over the forthcoming week, it was time to say goodbye after an excellent broadcast despite the terrible result from a personal perspective.

BRE Kick Off BRE Comms BRE Referee BRE Two Nil

Story of the Match: Brentford got the game underway kicking from right to left in the first half. Both sides wore their familiar stripes; red and white for the home team and blue and white away. Co-commentator David Fairclough noted Brentford’s fast start, urging Brighton to take the sting out of the Bees and hold on to the ball for longer periods. After a quarter of an hour, Brentford’s fast start should have been rewarded with a penalty. Only referee Trevor Parkes can answer why it wasn’t given, as Stephen Hunt was scythed down in the box by Richard Carpenter’s lunge. It was a clear penalty with both legs taken away but crucially not seen by the man in the middle. A shaven-headed Adam Virgo, not to be confused with his centre-half partner who also sports a skinhead Danny Cullip, was forced into a lot of work in the early exchanges and had a nasty clash of heads with big striker Ben Burgess. The breakthrough goal took just a quarter of the match. Stephen Hunt whipped in a corner from the far side and amongst the many bodies in the centre, defender Ingimarsson rose highest to nod home past Royce into the near corner of the net. Exactly what pundit Russell Osman pointed out in his Scouting Report videos, the centre back pairing was strong and Brentford posed serious threats from set pieces. The lead had been coming too. The best chance of an equaliser came ten minutes after. Bobby Zamora held the ball up very well with his back to goal. He chipped a cross over the other side of the box for Charlie Oatway. His cushioned header fell to Gary Hart near the penalty spot but his rushed effort sailed way over as he failed to get over the ball enough and the opportunity was squandered. Brighton would live to regret that as a minute later Ben Burgess made it two-nil. Fantastic determination was shown by Michael Dobson on the right wing to react to a loose ball far quicker than Mayo, who waited too long for the ball to drop. That sent the midfielder racing clear on the far touchline. Into the area he flung it low into the centre where Burgess could just guide it into the back of the net from all of five yards for the simplest of finishes to double the advantage. It stayed that way at the break, with a huge amount of work for the Seagulls to do in the second half to get anything out of this match.

BRE Subs BRE Burgess 2nd BRE Sidwell fourth BRE Final Score

Taylor made two changes at half-time as Lee Steele and Paul Brooker came on as the search for goals intensified. Within two minutes it almost brought about the start of an Albion comeback. Steele’s first touch with his thigh put the ball in his path on the far side of the area, after a ball over the top from Oatway. Unfortunately, Steele’s second touch of the match was a terribly weak effort with his right that trickled to Smith in goal. For a moment there was a sight at goal and if that had gone in the game would have been a completely different one in all probability. It was a much more positive start for Brighton but chances weren’t being carved out, with shots from Zamora and Virgo sailing over the top. Just before the hour mark, the game was wrapped up in superb style with another Ben Burgess goal. A free kick was floated to the edge of the box from the half way line. Brighton headed it out but the ball immediately flew back towards them. Burgess took one touch to cushion control it with his right foot before swivelling and shooting. His effort looped up and over Simon Royce and Albion’s good start to the second period was for nothing. The goal was terrific from Burgess, a man Brighton had no answers to. This spurred Brentford on further and had the ball in the net again a minute later from Owusu. The linesman’s flag correctly denied a fourth. However, that next goal did arrive when Steve Sidwell rounded off a nice move just a minute after. Left-back Anderson played the ball down the line for Owusu to hold up. The ball over the top then found Anderson’s run forward with space on the wing. His low cross to the centre was stepped over by Burgess to leave it for Sidwell on the penalty spot. His first-time left foot shot fired past Royce for four-nil to the side that had scored just once since Boxing Day. It was now a dreadful night for the Seagulls and getting worse all the time. Burgess was hunting for the hat-trick and had to be denied by the side-netting and Royce on a couple of occasions. As the game drew to a close Brighton enjoyed more of the ball. The closest to a consolation goal came from a Paul Watson free kick just outside the area, Paul Smith did well to get across his line and grasp the ball as it was heading for the top corner. But that was it on an extremely disappointing night for the Albion. Brentford outplayed us at every point and deservedly won by four goals to nil.

BRE Table

BRENTFORD 4 BRIGHTON 0
Ingimarsson, Burgess (2), Sidwell

BRE Replay

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